August 13, 2018
“I am not a black artist, I am an artist.. Believe it or not, I can actually draw” – Jean-Michel Basquiat
Who was Jean-Michel Basquiat?
Jean-Michel Basquiat was an American Painter from Brooklyn, New York, born on Dec. 22, 1960. He was a graffiti artist who successfully and quickly made it to the international art gallery circuit, bringing the African-American and Latino experience into the elite world.
How Much is a Basquiat Painting Worth?
During his lifetime, art lovers had no problem in paying as much as $50,000 for a Basquiat piece. However, close to two decades after his death, in May 2017, Basquiat officially joined the $100 plus million club when one of his skull paintings became the sixth most expensive work ever sold in auction for the price of $110.5 million. A Japanese billionaire, Yusaku Maezawa, revealed to be the buyer through his Instagram account; “I am happy to announce that I just won this masterpiece,” he posted. “When I first encountered this painting, I was struck with so much excitement and gratitude for my love of art. I want to share that experience with as many people as possible.” – billionaire Yuzaku Maezawa.
Only 10 other works have broken the $100 million mark. This places Basquiat “in the same league as Francis Bacon and Pablo Picasso”, according to art dealers, experts in Basquiat.
Jean-Michel Basquiat was a self-taught painter and a high school dropout. Before his career took off, he sold sweatshirts and postcards featuring his artwork on the streets. However, his popularity increased unusually fast in his early twenties.
In the mid 1980s, at about 20 years old, Basquiat was already collaborating with famed pop artist Andy Warhol on a show of their work that featured a series of corporate logos and cartoon characters. Basquiat’s paintings came to be adored by many art lovers from around the world rapidly, specifically because of the fusion of words, symbols, stick figures and animals seen in his art style. Basquiat’s overnight celebrity status also helped him become the youngest artist to ever showcase his paintings at the contemporary art exhibition hall Kestnergesellschaft or Kestner Society in Hanover, Germany – one of the largest and internationally best known German art associations.
Basquiat died of a drug overdose on August 12, 1988, in New York City, at the age of 27. After his death, Basquiat and his works continue to be in the spotlight. His 1982 skull painting, “Untitled”, set the sale record for him, making this art piece the highest price for an artwork by an American artist and masterpiece created after 1980. It was also the highest price for a painting by a black artist.
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Sources: Biography.com, Biography: “Jean-Michel Basquiat”; GallArt.com, Artist: “Jean-Michel Basquiat”; Robin, P. and Scott, R., (May 18, 2017), “A Basquiat Sells for ‘Mind Blowing’ 110.5 Million at Auction”, The New York Times; TheArtStory.org, Artists: “Jean-Michel Basquiat.”