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Distinctive Characteristics of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Artworks


“If you wanna talk about influence, man, then you’ve got to realize that influence is not influence. It’s simply someone’s idea going through my new mind.” 

Jean-Michel Basquiat


Basquiat was well-known for showing his subjects\’ heads rather than their full bodies. Many modern critics also agreed that his use of \”heroic\” emblems and personalities helped to better identify his approach, which was completely his own. The frequent use of words, anagrams, symbols, and numbers in Basquiat\’s artwork is another distinctive characteristic. This is perhaps because his early years as a graffiti artist on the streets of New York had a significant influence on him. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Jean-Michel Basquiat was at the forefront of New York\’s downtown avant-garde as a well-known painter, draughtsman, poet, musician, and graffiti artist.


Jean-Michel Basquiat was born in Brooklyn, New York, on December 22, 1960 to Gérard Basquiat and Matilde Andrades. His mother cultivated in him a love of the arts at a young age by taking him to museums all throughout Manhattan. At the age of four, Basquiat allegedly began learning how to read and write. He was well past his teenage years when he learned to speak French, Spanish, and English. He eventually directed this amazing intellect into the creation of art. When he was just seven years old, he started attending a prominent art school close to his house. He was also enrolled at the Brooklyn Museum of Art (as a junior member). His first significant artistic endeavour was started here. He co-wrote and co-authored a brief children\’s book with a classmate.


Jean-Michel Basquiat and his boyhood friend Al Diaz were members of the graffiti group SAMO before his expressionistic paintings and sketches catapulted him to stardom on a global scale. They were in charge of spray painting cryptic symbols and slogans on buildings all across Manhattan\’s Upper East Side. Jean-Michel Basquiat drew ideas from a wide range of sources, including the canon of art history, observations of modern society, poetry, music, pop culture, and books. His themes combine historical debates with manifestations of current racial injustice and strife in the United States. Cadillac Moon was Basquiat\’s first piece produced for sale. It was created and given to Blondie\’s Debbie Harry in 1981 for $200. His most well-known works include Untitled (Skull), from 1981 (which shows a strong Haitian influence), and Slave Auction, which explores America\’s sordid past. His later works honour the cultures of America, Haiti, and Puerto Rico. The darker aspects of society, such class inequality and conflict, were also covered. Basquiat was extremely productive throughout his career. He produced 600 paintings and almost 1500 drawings, making him a highly sought-after artist. He was a pioneer of the \”street artists\” and \”neo-expressionists,\” who at the time represented a radical shift in the art world.


The work of Basquiat is renowned for its primitive themes, fusing anatomical diagrams, commercial art, Black pop cultural history and figures, charged phrases and words, and images of the body in an explosive blend of emotions and psychological themes. His use of vivid colours and his energetic line drawings vividly brought to life on canvas his experiences in urban environments. Basquiat frequently painted and drew on assemblage surfaces, such as wood constructions, cardboard, metal, punching bags, and other items, in addition to standard canvas paintings. In Cabeza, an oil and crayon painting from 1982 that is among his most well-known pieces, Basquiat places a central black figure in the middle of a cadmium yellow and orange background. He routinely used heroin as a result of the stresses of being a black man in the white-dominated art community and his emotional instability, which ultimately led to his tragic death at the young age of 27 on August 12, 1988, from a heroin overdose at his Great Jones Street studio.


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