Jean-Michel Basquiat (December 22, 1960 - August 12, 1988) was an American artist born in Brooklyn, New York.
His mother was a Puerto Rican and his father of Haitian origin.
He had started as a street artist painting graffiti art (using the pseudonym Samo) and then he became a very popular and successful avant-garde artist.
His style was avant garde - nervous, fierce and energetic.
Basquiat's career divides into three broad though overlapping phases:
In the earliest, from 1980 to late 1982, Basquiat used painterly gestures on canvas, most often depicting skeletal figures and mask-like faces that signal his obsession with mortality, and imagery derived from his street existence, such as automobiles, buildings, police, children's sidewalk, games and graffiti.
A middle period from late 1982 to 1985 features multipanel paintings and individual canvases with exposed stretcher bars, the surface dense with writing, collage and seemingly unrelated imagery. These works reveal a strong interest in Basquiat's black and Hispanic identity and his identification with historical and contemporary black figures and events.
The last phase, from about 1986 to Basquiat's death in 1988, displays a new type of figurative depiction, in a new painterly style, with different symbols, sources, and content.
He was a close friend of Andy Warhol, and the two made a number of collaborative works.
Basquiat's character has also been represented in motion picture. He has been portrayed by Jeffrey Wright in Basquiat, a bio-pic about the artist (directed by Julian Schnabel), and he played himself in New York Beat Movie, Downtown 81, and Eat to the Beat.
Basquiat became addicted to heroin, and died of an overdose. He was 27 years old.