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Monday, September 2, 2013

The Radiant indigo-child: Basquiat.. [Life&Death in Art].

Jean-Michel Basquiat, born in Brooklyn, New York, was the second of four children of Matilda Andrades (July 28, 1934 – November 17, 2008),and Gerard Basquiat (born 1930). He had two younger sisters: Lisane, born in 1964, and Jeanine, born in 1967. His father, Gerard Basquiat, was born in Port-au- Prince, Haiti, and his mother, Matilde Basquiat, of Afro-Puerto Rican descent, was born in Brooklyn, New York. Matilde instilled a love for art in her young
son by taking him to art museums in Manhattan and
enrolling him as a junior member of the Brooklyn Museum of Art.  Basquiat was a precocious child who learned how to read and write by age four and
was a gifted artist. His teachers noticed his artistic
abilities, and his mother encouraged her son's artistic
talent. By the age of 11, Basquiat could fluently
speak, read and write French, Spanish, and English. In September 1968, when Basquiat was about 8, he
was hit by a car while playing in the street. His arm
was broken and he suffered several internal injuries, and he eventually underwent a splenectomy. While he was recuperating from his injuries, his mother brought him the Gray's Anatomy book to keep him occupied. This book would prove to be influential in
his future artistic outlook. His parents separated that
year and he and his sisters were raised by their father. The family resided in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, for five years, then moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1974. After two years, they returned to New York City. When he was 11, his mother was committed to a
mental institution and thereafter spent time in and out of institutions. At 15, Basquiat ran away from home. He slept on park benches in Washington Square Park, and was arrested and returned to the care of his father within a week. Basquiat dropped out of Edward R. Murrow High School in the tenth grade. His father banished him from the household and Basquiat stayed with friends
in Brooklyn. He supported himself by selling T-shirts
and homemade post cards. He also worked at the
Unique Clothing Warehouse in West Broadway, Manhattan.

In 1976, Basquiat and friend Al Diaz began spray-
painting graffiti on buildings in Lower Manhattan, working under the pseudonym SAMO. The designs featured inscribed messages such as “Plush safe he
think.. SAMO” and “SAMO as an escape clause.” On December 11, 1978, the Village Voice published an article about the graffiti. When Basquiat & Diaz ended their friendship, The SAMO project ended with
the epitaph “SAMO IS DEAD,” inscribed on the walls of SoHo buildings in 1979. In 1979, Basquiat appeared on the live public-access television cable TV show TV Party hosted by Glenn O'Brien, and the two started a friendship. Basquiat made regular appearances on the show over the next
few years. That same year, Basquiat formed the noise rock band Test Pattern – which was later renamed Gray – which played at Arleen Schloss´s open space, “Wednesdays at A`s”,where in October 1979 Basquiat showed, among others, his SAMO color
Xerox work. Gray also consisted of Shannon Dawson, Michael Holman, Nick Taylor, Wayne Clifford and Vincent Gallo, and the band performed at nightclubs such as Max's Kansas City, CBGB, Hurrah, and the Mudd Club. In 1980, Basquiat starred in O'Brien's independent film Downtown 81, originally titled New York Beat. That same year, Basquiat met Andy Warhol, at a restaurant. Basquiat presented to Warhol samples of his work, and Warhol was stunned by
Basquiat's genius and allure. The men later collaborated. Downtown 81 featured some of Gray's recordings on its soundtrack. Basquiat also appeared in the Blondie music video “Rapture” as a nightclub disc jockey. In June 1980, Basquiat participated in The Times Square Show, a multi-artist exhibition sponsored by Collaborative Projects Incorporated (Colab) and Fashion Moda. In 1981, Rene Ricard published “The Radiant Child” in Artforum magazine,which brought Basquiat to the attention of the art world. From November 1982, Basquiat worked from the
ground-floor display and studio space Larry Gagosian had built below his Venice home and commenced a series of paintings for a 1983 show, his second at Gagosian Gallery, then in West Hollywood. During this time he took considerable interest in the work
that Robert Rauschenberg was producing at Gemini G.E.L. in West Hollywood, visiting him on several occasions and finding inspiration in the accomplishments of the painter. In 1982, Basquiat also worked briefly with musician and artist David Bowie. In 1983, Basquiat produced a 12" rap single featuring hip-hop artists, Rammellzee and K-Rob. Billed as Rammellzee vs. K-Rob, the single contained two
versions of the same track: “Beat Bop” on side one
with vocals and “Beat Bop” on side two as an instrumental. The single was pressed in limited quantities on the one-off Tartown Record Company
label. The single's cover featured Basquiat's artwork,
making the pressing highly desirable among both
record and art collectors. At the suggestion of Swiss dealer Bruno Bischofberger, Warhol and Basquiat worked on a series of collaborative paintings between 1983 and 1985. In the case of Olympic Rings (1985), Warhol made several variations of the Olympic five-ring
symbol, rendered in the original primary colors.
Basquiat responded to the abstract, stylized logos with his oppositional graffiti style. Basquiat often painted in expensive Armani suits and would even appear in public in the same paint- splattered suits. By 1986, Basquiat had left the Annina Nosei gallery,
and was showing in the famous Mary Boone gallery in SoHo. On February 10, 1985, he appeared on the cover of The New York Times Magazine in a feature entitled “New Art, New Money: The Marketing of an American Artist”. He was a successful artist in this period, but his growing heroin addiction began to
interfere with his personal relationships. When Andy Warhol died on February 22, 1987, Basquiat became increasingly isolated, and his heroin addiction and depression grew more severe. Despite an attempt at sobriety during a trip to Maui, Hawaii, Basquiat died on August 12, 1988, of a heroin overdose at his art studio in Great Jones Street in New York City's NoHo neighborhood. He was 27. Basquiat was interred in Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery.

Fred Hoffman hypothesizes that underlying
Basquiat’s sense of himself as an artist was his
“innate capacity to function as something like an oracle, distilling his perceptions of the outside world down to their essence and, in turn, projecting them outward through his creative acts.” Additionally, continuing his activities as a graffiti artist, Basquiat
often incorporated words into his paintings. Before
his career as a painter began, he produced punk-
inspired postcards for sale on the street, and became
known for the political–poetical graffiti under the
name of SAMO. On one occasion Basquiat painted his girlfriend's dress with the words “Little Shit
Brown”. He would often draw on random objects and
surfaces, including other people's property. The
conjunction of various media is an integral element of
Basquiat's art. His paintings are typically covered with
text and codes of all kinds: words, letters, numerals, pictograms, logos, map symbols, diagrams and more. A middle period from late 1982 to 1985 featured
multi-panel paintings and individual canvases with
exposed stretcher bars, the surface dense with
writing, collage and imagery. The years 1984–85 were
also the main period of the Basquiat–Warhol
collaborations, even if, in general, they weren't very well received by the critics. A major reference source used by Basquiat throughout his career was the book Gray's Anatomy, which his mother gave to him while he was in the
hospital at age seven. It remained influential in his
depictions of internal human anatomy, and in its
mixture of image and text. Other major sources were
Henry Dreyfuss Symbol Sourcebook, Leonardo Da Vinci's notebooks, and Brentjes African Rock Art. Basquiat doodled often and some of his later pieces exhibited this; they were often colored pencil on paper
with a loose, spontaneous, and dirty style much like
his paintings. His work across all mediums displays a childlike fascination with the process of creating.

In 1991, poet Kevin Young produced a book, To Repel Ghosts, a compendium of 117 poems relating to Basquiat's life, individual paintings, and social
themes found in the artist's work. He published a “remix” of the book in 2005. In 2005, poet M.K. Asante, Jr. published the poem “SAMO,” dedicated to Basquiat, in his book Beautiful. And Ugly Too. In film Basquiat starred in Downtown 81, a verité movie that was written by Glenn O’Brien and shot by Edo Bertoglio in 1981, but not released until 1998. In 1996, seven years after the artist's death, a biographical film titled Basquiat was released, directed by Julian Schnabel, with actor Jeffrey Wright playing Basquiat. David Bowie played the part of Andy
Warhol. Schnabel was interviewed during the film's
script development as a personal acquaintance of
Basquiat. Schnabell then purchased the rights to the project, realizing that he could make a better film. A 2009 documentary film, Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child, directed by Tamra Davis, was first screened as part of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and was shown on the PBS series Independent Lens in 2011. Basquiat, a Life, a film by Jean Michel Vecchiet, in 2010

Basquiat sold his first painting in 1981, and by 1982,
spurred by the Neo-Expressionist art boom, his work
was in great demand. In 1985, he was featured on the cover of The New York Times Magazine in connection with an article on the newly exuberant
international art market; this was unprecedented for an African-American artist, and for one so young. Since Basquiat's death in 1988, his market has
developed steadily – in line with overall art market
trends – with a dramatic peak in 2007 when, at the
height of the art market boom, the global auction
volume for his work was over $115m. Brett Gorvy,
deputy chairman of Christie's, is quoted describing Basquiat's market as “two-tiered. [...] The most
coveted material is rare, generally dating from the best period, 1981–83.” Until 2002, the highest money paid for an original
work of Basquiat's was US$3,302,500, set on
November 12, 1998 at Christie's. In 2002, Basquiat's Profit I (1982), a large piece measuring 86.5"/220 cm by 157.5"/400 cm, was set for auction again at
Christie's by drummer Lars Ulrich of the heavy metal band Metallica. It sold for US$5,509,500. The proceedings of the auction are documented in the film Some Kind of Monster. In 2008, at another auction at Christie's, Ulrich sold a 1982 Basquiat piece, Untitled (Boxer), for US $13,522,500 to an anonymous telephone bidder.
Another record price for a Basquiat painting was
made on in 2007, when an untitled Basquiat work
from 1981 sold at Sotheby's in New York for US $14.6 million. In 2012, for the second year running, Basquiat was the most coveted
contemporary (i.e. born after 1945) artist at auction, with €80m in overall sales. That year, his Untitled (1981), a painting of a haloed, black-headed man with
a bright red skeletal body, depicted amid the artist's
signature scrawls, was sold by Robert Lehrman for
$16.3 million, well above its $12 million high estimate. A similar untitled piece, also undertaken in 1981 and formerly owned by the Israel Museum, sold for £12.92 million at Christie's London, setting a world auction record for Basquiat's work.

Also looking at the contemporary music scene and other auxiliary facets of post-modernist deconstruction sub-culture art scene,his influence and overall impact has been noticeably commandable and awe-inspiring.

Shouts out to Basquiat..

In our daily struggles to comprehend the totality and complex simplicity of our solitudinal dualistic multi-dimensional mental world,we constantly experience Death and are so ressurected in our everyday evolution and insightful re-invention of the self~ Life is Art and I am also another
Jean-Michel Basquiat.