Language in the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat, from graffiti to word as motif
In the wild New York of the 1980s, Jean-Michel Basquiat was the first African-American artist to receive art-world attention. The complexity and trailblazing innovative power of his paintings has been widely discussed, but this book focuses on the treatment of language in Basquiat's ouevre. With its complex structures, spontaneous rhythms and sampled, collage-like manifestations, his work was drawn into the orbit of the Beat Generation poets and the protagonists of the musical avant-garde. The multitalented Basquiat created a shimmering, syncopated fabric of images and text, which the American curator and critic Robert Storr aptly called "eye rap." It was with this unpretentious and spontaneous way of working that Basquiat rewrote art history.
Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) grew up in Brooklyn. His first notoriety came when he was making street paintings under the tag SAMO. Later he stormed the gallery world, and became an icon of New York's vibrant early-80s downtown scene, a friend to and collaborator with Andy Warhol and Francesco Clemente, and the cover boy for a 1985 New York Times Magazine story on the new art market. His death following a heroin overdose at 27 did not by any means decrease interest in his work, which was recently the subject of a retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum, New York.