Jean Michel Basquiat Crown

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Basquiat's transition from being homeless and unemployed to becoming a prosperous artist took place in a short space of time. By 1980, he would be selling a single painting for up to $25,000. In 1976, Basquiat and his friend Al Diaz began spray painting graffiti on buildings in Lower Manhattan, working under the pseudonym SAMO. The designs featured inscribed messages within his Untitled works such as "Plush safe he think. . . SAMO (sic)" and "SAMO as an escape clause". In 1978, Basquiat worked for the Unique Clothing Warehouse in their art department at 718 Broadway in NoHo, and at night he continued using the pseudonym "SAMO", painting his original graffiti art on neighborhood buildings. Unique's founder Harvey Russack discovered Basquiat painting a building one night, they became friends, and he offered him a day job. On December 11, 1978, The Village Voice published an article about the graffiti. When Basquiat and Diaz ended their friendship, the SAMO project ended with the epitaph "SAMO IS DEAD", inscribed on the walls of SoHo buildings in 1979.

An icon of New York in the 1980s, Jean-Michel Basquiat became renowned during his short career for works inspired by his early street art and a distinctive iconography often connected to art history. His paintings, drawings, and prints drew on a diverse range of sources, from African, Aztec, and Greek cultures to Americana in the form of jazz, baseball, and social and political events.

The below artworks are the most important by Jean-Michel Basquiat - that both overview the major creative periods, and highlight the greatest achievements by the artist.

Jean-Michel Basquiat was born on December 22, 1960, in Brooklyn, New York. He first attracted attention for his graffiti under the name "SAMO" in New York City. He sold sweatshirts and postcards featuring his artwork on the streets before his painting career took off. He collaborated with Andy Warhol in the mid-1980s, which resulted in a show of their work. Basquiat died on August 12, 1988, in New York City.