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|Artist: Basquiat Jean-Michel||Width: 20,5 cm|
|Support: Paper||Height: 19,7 cm|
A stylized face with uncovered teeth and the letter A obsessively repeated below: a laugh or a desperate cry? A scathing sign accompanies the design, which as often in the works of the artist combines words or letters with images.
Basquiat's Pop Art has nothing in common with the world of appearances of the star system: it comes from the street, from the dirty alleys of the Bronx, from loneliness. It is characterized by a style that launches strong messages and denunciations through violent colors and a childish sign, derived from tribal graffiti. Basquiat strongly persecuted the African-American cause, he was an attentive observer of an alienating and unequal society, but his works were never fully understood, although they were sold to considerable numbers: we did not understand the desperate poetry that accompanies them and we do not understand the their social value, perhaps so subversive as to have to be in some way anesthetized by the market. It was probably the total misunderstanding of his art that caused Basquiat's death at the age of 27, killed by a cocktail of drugs that he had always used.
The screnprint was issued for the opening night exhibition of "Jean-Michel Basquiat" at the Kestner-Gesellschaft in Hannover, Germany (the exhibition took place from 28 November 1986 to 25 January 1987).
Color offset screenprint. 1985. Printed in 1986. Signed in black marker, lower right. Limited edition (unknokn circolation).
Jean-Michel Basquiat was born on December 22, 1960, in Brooklyn, New York. He was the son of a Haitian-American father and a Puerto Rican mother.
Since a very young age Basquiat shows an interest for art, and his mother encouraged his artistic talent by taking him to art museums around New York city.
In 1968 his parents got divorced, and in 1976 he attended "City as A School", an alternative high school for talented students who failed at conventional schooling.
The same years, when he was 17 years old, Basquiat started to use drugs and began to fill the streets of Manhattan with graffiti under the name "SAMO", a tag for Same Old Shit.
His graffiti were based on revolutionary or senseless phrases like SAMO© SAVES IDIOTS, and also in his drawings he often added words or phrases that oftentimes were crossed out.
In 1978, Basquiat dropped out of school and left his father's home in Brooklyn.
During this time, he supported himself by selling T-shirts and homemade postcards, and for a long period was homeless, forced to sleep in a New York's park.
The same year he met Andy Warhol in a restaurant in Soho; Warhol bought him a postcard for a dollar, even though the famous artist did not show a particular interest in Basquiat art.
It would be only just a few years later, that Basquiat will become part of “The Factory”, the artistic studio of Warhol.
Meanwhile he was also succeeding in the cultural scene of the East Village, thanks to his frequent TV appearances on Glenn O'Brien TV Party show.
Finally, Basquiat's career began to take off also as a musician, since he was also part of a musical band, but especially as an artist.
Meeting Warhol influenced deeply Basquiat’s artistic production; in fact, both had a blooming collaboration and set up together an exhibition whose poster portrays them as protagonists of a boxing match.
The young artist began to show at art exhibits, in New York and around the world.
On February 10th, 1985 the New York Times Magazine dedicated him a cover, with the title: "New Art, New Money: The Making of an American Artist", naming him as a rising star of the American Peinture.
Despite his success, Basquiat had a melancholic soul, unable to balance his fame and his own demons; when his paintings reached millionaire quotations, in the hands of a market that is more interested in the works rather than the person, the artist fell in crisis.
He had been using drugs since a very young age, but it especially after Warhol’s death in 1987, he became increasingly depressed and paranoid.
On August 12th in 1988, at the age of 27, he was found dead in his New York loft due to a mix of cocaine and heroin.
Basquiat's works are considered an excellent investment; in fact, on May 14th, 2002 Christie's auctioned for 5,509,500 dollars the painting "Profit I", a work previously owned by Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich.
It was the highest reached price for one of his works until May 15th, 2007 when the New York auction house Sotheby's sold an untitled work by Basquiat for 14.6 million dollars, reaching a new record for the artist.
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