In the seventies, Jean-Michel Basquiat (New York, 1960–1988) created enigmatic graffiti in the city of New York along with his companion Al Diaz, signing them with the pseudonym SAMO©, an acronym for the expression ‘Same Old Shit’. In addition to graffiti, Basquiat painted postcards, his own clothes, doors and window frames, and large canvases. Today, this non-conformist and self-taught artist, coming out of lower Manhattan in a post-punk context, is one of the most representative artists of the second half of the twentieth century. In 1981, Rene Ricard published in the prestigious magazine Artforum the definitive article describing him as ‘The Radiant Child’.

Success rapidly followed, and in 1982 he became the youngest artist participating in Documenta, Kassel. Alongside his raw and vibrant images, brief inscriptions on his canvases point to his interest in music, cinema, television and literature. His paintings combine visual strength with fury and rage. Although brought up in middle-class Brooklyn, the origins of this African-American artist go back to Haitian and Puerto Rican culture. Associating with well-known artists such as Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, he died of a drug overdose aged just twenty-seven years.

His first solo exhibition took place in 1982 at the Annina Nosei Gallery in New York’s SoHo. That same year, he participated in Documenta, Kassel. He continued to exhibit widely until his death, since when there have been numerous group and solo exhibitions. Among the latter are the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1992), Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York (2005), Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art (2006), Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris (2010), Barbican Centre, London (2017) and Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2018), among others. Collections include the Gagosian Gallery, New York; ZKM, Karlsruhe; Museum der Moderne, Salzburg; Vancouver Art Gallery, ”la Caixa”, Barcelona; MOCA, Los Angeles; MoMA. New York; Centre George Pompidou, Paris; and MACBA, Barcelona.

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I paint as if I were walking in the street. I collect a pearl or a crust of bread; what I find around is what I offer
Joan Miró