Jean-Michel Basquiat : Biography

A biography of Jean-Michel Basquiat, with references to the most important events of his life as an artist, detailed references on most relevant exhibitions held by the artist, photos and images of some artworks.

Early years


Jean-Michel Basquiat was born on December 22nd at Brooklyn Hospital, New York, shortly after the death of his elder brother, Max.

His father Gérard Basquiat, born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; is mother, Matilde Andrades, born in Brooklyn of Puerto Rican parents.

The Basquiats live in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Jean-Michel Basquiat at the age of eighteen months

Jean-Michel Basquiat at the age of eighteen months


Sister, Lisane, is born in Brooklyn.


With his mother, Jean-Michel Basquiat often visits the Brooklyn Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. His mother continues to encourage his interest in art and emphasizes the importance of education. Basquiat attends kindergarten at a Head Start Project school.

Jean Michel Basquiat - 1965

Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1965


The Basquiat family moves to East 35th Street in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn.


Basquiat attends St. Ann’s, a private Catholic school. Basquiat becomes an avid reader of Spanish, French, and English texts and a more than competent athlete, competing in track events. Sister, Jeanine, is born.


Jean-Michel Basquiat makes cartoonlike drawings inspired by Alfred Hitchcock films, automobiles, comic books, and the Alfred E. Neuman character from Mad. “He was always so bright, absolutely an unbelievable mind… He drew and painted all of his life from the time he was three or four years old“(Gerard Basquiat).

“Gray’s Anatomy”: a significant influence on future work

Gray's anatomy cover book

Gray’s anatomy

In May, while playing ball in the street, Basquiat is hit by an automobile. He breaks an arm, suffers various internal injuries, and has to have his
spleen removed. He is hospitalized at King’s County Hospital for one month.

While recovering, he receives a copy of Gray’s Anatomy from his mother.The book makes a lasting impression; its influence is found in Basquiat’s later work with anatomical drawings and prints and in the name of the band he co-founded in 1979, Gray.

Gérard and Matilde Basquiat separate. The seven-year-old Jean-Michel Basquiat remains with his father and two sisters in East Flatbush.


Gérard Basquiat and his three children move to the Boerum Hill section of Brooklyn. Basquiat leaves St. Ann’s for public school, P.S.181.- the first of many New York City public schools he will attend.


Due to a job promotion and relocation, Gérard Basquiat and his children move to Puerto Rico where Basquiat attends an Episcopalian school.

SAMO© is born


Gerard Basquiat and his children return from Puerto Rico to live in their Boerum Hill brownstone. Basquiat resumes schooling at Edward R. Murrow High School. After a few weeks, he transfers to City-As-School, an alternative high school where work-study internships are accepted as credit toward a high school diploma.

Designed for gifted and talented children, it is based on John Dewey’s theory that students learn by doing. At City-As-School, Jean-Michel Basquiat meets Al Diaz, a graffitist from the Jacob Riis Projects on the Lower East Side; they become close friends and early artistic collaborators.

During this time, Basquiat creates a fictional character named SAMO© (Same Old Shit), who makes a living selling a fake religion. Jean-Michel Basquiat and Al Diaz begin collaborating on the SAMO© project as “a way of letting off steam.
They begin by spray painting aphorisms around lower Manhattan. The writings consist of witty philosophical poems: “SAMO© AS AN END TO MINDWASH RELIGION, NOWHERE POLITICS, AND BOGUS PHILOSOPHY“, “SAMO© SAVES IDIOTS“, “PLUSH SAFE HE THINK; SAMO©.“, “SAMO© 4 THE SO-CALLED AVANT-GARDE“,”SAMO© AS A CONGLOMERATE OF DORMANT-GENIOUS“. With its anti-establishment, anti-religion, anti-politics credo packaged in an ultra-contemporary format, SAMO© soon received media attention from the counter-culture press.

SAMO© graffito

SAMO© graffito

The stuff you see on the subways now is inane. Scribbled. SAMO was like a refresher course because there is some kind of statement being made” (Al Diaz).

SAMO© graffito

SAMO© graffito

At Diaz’s graduation from City As-School in June 1977, Basquiat, on a dare, prepares a box full of shaving cream and while the principal is speaking, he runs up to the podium and dumps the box on his head. Basquiat leaves school; although only a year away from his own graduation, he feels there is “no point in going back.

Basquiat leaves his home


In June, Basquiat leaves home for good. His father , with some trepidation, gives him some money with the understanding that his son will try his best to succeed. Basquiat stays with friends, and frequently at the Canal Street loft of British artist/entrepreneur Stan Peskett, where he befriends Fred Brathwaite a.k.a. Fab 5 Freddy. Peskett later provides a studio/factory space for Brathwaite and Lee Quiñones.

Hand painted postcard

Hand painted postcard

At parties in the loft, Basquiat also meets Michael Holman, a future member of Gray, and Danny Rosen, who immediately becomes his companion on the downtown club scene. Basquiat, Rosen, Holman, and Vincent Gallo, who would also join Gray, are referred to as the “baby crowd” at the clubs.

Basquiat begins to sell hand-painted postcards and T-shirts to make a little money. He approaches Andy Warhol and Henry Geldzahler inside the SoHo restaurant WPA: he sells a postcard to Warhol but Geldzahler dismisses him as “too young.”

Basquiat and his girlfriend Alexis Adler move into a small apartment at 527 East 12th Street, his first fixed address. During this time, he becomes a regular among a crowd of filmmakers, musicians, and artists that hang out at the “new” downtown spots: the Mudd Club, Club 57, CBGB’s, Hurrah’s, and Tier 3.

The Mudd Club

Along with Patti Astor (co-founder of the Fun Gallery), David Byrne, Blondie, Madonna, the B-52’s, John Lurie, Diego Cortez, Edit deAk, Ann Magnuson, and John Sex, Basquiat regularly makes the scene at the Mudd Club.

At the same time, a new cultural aesthetic is flowering uptown in the streets of Harlem and the basements of the South Bronx: deejaying, emceeing (rap), graffiti, and breaking—the elements of hip-hop culture.
Fab 5 Freddy notes that “the scene downtown … was pretty much all white except for me, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and a few other people.” Fab 5 Freddy provides Basquiat with a link to the graffitists and rap artists from uptown, including Quiñones, Toxic, A-One, and Rammellzee, the graffiti artist and deejay.

Jean-Michel Basquiat at Mudd Club

Jean-Michel Basquiat at Mudd Club

Basquiat and Rammellzee soon form a confrontational though valuable friendship.

Rammellzee often told Jean-Michel that he now had a responsibility to people of color. He brought him to meetings of the Five Percent Nation. At first, Jean-Michel seemed indifferent to this idea” (Suzanne Mallouk).

December 11, an article by Philip Faflick appears in “The Village Voice” about the ubiquitous SAMO© writings, which have generated considerable interest around New York.
The article, accompanied by a photograph, identifies Basquiat and Diaz by their first names only, Jean and Al, as the perpetrators of the carefully placed phrases.

We had pretty much stopped looking at the walls until this fall, when we noticed something new … SAMO© is the logo of the most ambitious—and sententious—of the new wave of Magic Marker Jeremiahs” (Philip Faflick).

SAMO© is dead


Samo graffiti

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s and Al Diaz SAMO© graffito

Shortly after the article in The Village Voice, Basquiat and Diaz have a falling out that ends the SAMO© collaboration, and “SAMO© is dead” begins appearing on various SoHo walls.
After taking note of the mantra, contemporary street artist, Keith Haring, staged a mock wake for SAMO at his Club 57.

Jean-Michel saw SAMO as a vehicle, the graffiti was an advertisement for himself … all of a sudden he just started taking it over” (Al Diaz).

Basquiat concentrates on painting T-shirts and making post-cards, drawings, and collages displaying a combination of graffiti art and Abstract Expressionism. Basquiat collaborates on many of these with Jennifer Stein and John Sex, and sells work in Washington Square Park, around SoHo, and in front of The Museum of Modern Art.

Jean-Michel Basquiat musician: the “Gray”

In May, Basquiat, along with Shannon Dawson, Vincent Gallo, and Michael Holman form the band Channel 9, later renamed Gray.
They are subsequently joined by Wayne Clifford and Nick Taylor. Basquiat plays clarinet and synthesizers for the group, which performs noise music.

In the fall, while wandering around the School of Visual Arts, Basquiat meets fellow artists and downtown scene-makers Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf. Basquiat and Haring share a close relationship for the rest of their lives. Basquiat admires the raw, graffiti qualities of Haring’s work, and he sees Haring as truly a part of the graffiti subculture in a way that he is not.

Through Fab 5 Freddy, Basquiat meets Glenn O’Brien, the producer of “TV Party” on New York cable television and music editor at “Interview”. They become good friends, and Basquiat frequently appears on “TV Party“.

Basquiat meets Diego Cortez, an artist and filmmaker. Cortez takes a liking to Basquiat’s work, sells some drawings, and eventually shows the work to art dealers. He also formally introduces Basquiat to Henry Geldzahler, who becomes a friend and early collector of Basquiat’s art.



Diego had done a lot … some performance stuff with Laurie Anderson. He was one of the few people who had contacts in both music and art at the Mudd Club” (Glenn O’Brien)

The first exhibition


The venue of the Times Square Show, 1980.

The venue of the Times Square Show, 1980.

In June, Basquiat’s art is publicly exhibited for the first time in the “Times Square Show”, a group exhibition held in a vacant building in Times Square. The exhibition is organized by Colab (Collaborative Projects), an artist-run group based in the Lower East Side, and Fashion Moda, a graffiti-based alternative gallery space in the South Bronx. Some of the other artists in the show are: David Hammons, Jenny Holzer, Joe Lewis, Lee Quiñones, Kenny Scharf, and Kiki Smith.

“The Times Square Show” is enthusiastically received by the art world, an early step in legitimizing the artists of the East Village club scene and the beginning of a warm, though short, reception for the graffitists in the “New York art world.”

Glenn O’Brien selects Basquiat to play the lead role in the film “New York Beat” (released in 2000 as Downtown 81), written by O’Brien, produced by Maripol, and directed by Edo Bertoglio, for the Italian company Fiorucci, with financial backing from Rizzoli.
The film is loosely based on the downtown art scene and on Basquiat himself. Production begins in December and ends in January (1981).

Basquiat on the set of Downtown 81

Basquiat on the set of Downtown 81

New York/New Wave“: start to rise


In January, Basquiat and his girlfriend Suzanne Mallouk, a singer and artist, begin sharing an apartment at 68 East 1St Street. From February to April, Basquiat is included in “New York/New Wave”, an exhibition organized by Diego Cortez for the large gallery space at P.S.1 in Long Island City.
The show includes more than twenty artists, among them Keith Haring, Robert Mapplethorpe, Kenny Scharf, Dondi, and Fab 5 Freddy.

Basquiat’s works attract the attention of dealers Emilio Mazzoli, Bruno Bischofberger, and Annina Nosei.

In April, Fab 5 Freddy and Futura 2000 organize “Beyond Words: Graffiti-Based-Rooted-Inspired Works” at the Mudd Club. The show includes the work of Basquiat (as SAMO), Tseng Kwong Chi, Daze, Keith Haring, Phase II, Iggy Pop, Rammellzee, and Kenny Scharf.

Galleria Emilio Mazzoli: the first one-artist exhibition.

In May, Basquiat travels to Europe for the first time, for his first one-artist exhibition, at the Galleria d’Arte Emilio Mazzoli in Modena, Italy. The work is shown under the name SAMO.

Basquiat with Emilio Mazzoli

Jean-Michel Basquiat with Emilio Mazzoli

What about the list of pre-Socratic philosophers in the recent paintings, and the kinds of materials which get into your painting always, that derive not so much from Twombly, as from the same kind of synthetic thinking. Is that something you’ve done from your childhood, lists of things?” (Henry Geldzahler)

That was from going to Italy, and copying names out of tour books, and condensed histories. … originally I wanted to copy the whole history down, but it was too tedious so I just stuck to the cast of characters.” (Basquiat)

Annina Nosei: the first primary dealer

Basquiat is invited by Annina Nosei to participate in the group show “Public Address” at her gallery from October to November. Sociopolitical content is the focus of the exhibition, with works by Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer, and Barbara Kruger.

Following this exhibition, Nosei becomes Basquiat’s primary dealer, and knowing he has no studio space of his own, invites him to use her gallery basement space as a studio.

The first extensive article on Basquiat, “The Radiant Child” by Rene Ricard, appears in the December issue of “Artforum”. The detailed essay examines the emerging New York artists from the Mudd Club shows, the “Times Square Show”, and “New York/New Wave”.

Basquiat and Annina Nosei

Basquiat and Annina Nosei

If Cy Twombly and Jean Dubuffet had a baby and gave it up for adoption it would be Jean-Michel. The elegance of Twombly is there [and is] from the same source (graffiti) and so is the brut of the young Dubuffet” (Rene Ricard).


Basquiat and Suzanne Mallouk

Jean-Michel Basquiat and Suzanne Mallouk

In January, Basquiat moves with Suzanne Mallouk to 151 Crosby Street in SoHo, an apartment that Nosei arranges for Basquiat.

In March Basquiat’s first U.S. solo exhibition, at Annina Nosei Gallery, gets rave reviews. Paintings include Arroz con Pollo, Crowns (Peso Neto), Untitled, and Per Capita.

Basquiat’s great strength is in his ability to merge his absorption of imagery from the streets, the newspapers, and TV with the spiritualism of his Haitian heritage, injecting both into a marvelously intuitive understanding of the language of modern painting” (Jeffrey Deitch).

From this point on he supports himself from the sale of his paintings. In the fall of 1982 Basquiat is working at his new Crosby Street loft. He develops a busy style mixing many words and images, often done on intentionally primitive hand-made stretchers.

Also in March, Basquiat is featured in the group show “Transavanguardia:Italia/America”, organized by Achille Bonito Oliva at the Galleria Civica in Modena, Italy.

In April, Basquiat travels to Los Angeles for his solo show at the Larry Gagosian Gallery. Paintings include Six Crimee, Untitled (LA Painting), Untitled (Two Heads on Gold), Untitled (Black Tar and Feathers), and Untitled (Yellow Tar and Feathers).

The traditional substructure of Basquiat’s art is Abstract Expressionism. He piles up rich palimpsests of paint over black grounds or snazzy oranges that are structured with architectonic solidity” (William Wilson).

Bruno Bischofberger and Documenta 7

In May, after Basquiat leaves Annina Nosei Gallery, Bruno Bischofberger becomes his primary dealer. At the artist’s request, Bischofberger starts looking for a partner-gallery in New York. That fall, Leo Castelli declines. By the following spring (1983), Mary Boone has agreed to be Bischofberger’s partner.

In June, Jean-Michel Basquiat, at age twenty-one, is the youngest of 176 artists invited by Rudi Fuchs to participate in the international exhibition Documenta 7 in Kassel, Germany. His work is shown with that of such established artists as Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, Gerhard Richter, and Cy Twombly. The paintings shown are Poison Oasis (Acque Pericolose) and Arroz con Pollo.

In September, Basquiat travels to Zurich for the opening of his first one-artist exhibition at the Galerie Bruno Bischofberger. This exhibition marks the first showing of Basquiat’s exposed corner crossbar paintings. Works include Man from Naples, Crown Hotel, Multiflavor, and Profit I.

In the fall, Bischofberger brings Basquiat to Andy Warhol’s Factory for a photo session. After Warhol takes Basquiat’s photo, Basquiat asks Bischofberger to take a shot of the two of them together. He leaves the factory with the photo, and an hour and a half later, Basquiat’s assistant delivers the still-wet painting Dos Cabezas (depicting Warhol and Basquiat) to the Factory much to Warhol’s delight.

Basquiat, Documenta 7, 1982

Basquiat at Documenta 7

In November, Jean-Michel Basquiat has a one-artist exhibition at the Fun Gallery, located at 254 East 10th Street, run by Bill Stelling and Patti Astor. The canvases reveal a terrific rawness in a crowded installation designed by Basquiat. The “messy” character of the installation may have been Basquiat’s response to the criticism that, with the rising international fame and “cleaner” shows in the more finished spaces of SoHo galleries, his work had lost some of its originality.

The paintings in this show, the fruit of his hermetic season in the Crosby Street loft, include Cabeza, Charles the First, Jawbone of an Ass, Three Quarters of Olympia Minus the Servant, Untitled (Sugar Ray Robinson), See Plate 3, and Baby Boom

Basquiat produces a rap record with Fab 5 Freddy, Toxic, A-One, Al Diaz, and Rammellzee, and often deejays at various Manhattan clubs. Some of his paintings — Charles the First, CPRKR, Discography One and Discography Two, Horn Players, and Max Roach — express his strong affinity for the work of jazz artists and the influence of music on his work.

Between the end of 1982 and the beginning of 1983 Basquiat had a brief relationship with popstar Madonna.


Basquiat - Hollywood Africans

Hollywood Africans

In March, Basquiat returns to Los Angeles for his second show at the Larry Gagosian Gallery. Paintings include Eyes and Eggs, Untitled (Sugar Ray Robinson), Jack Johnson, Museum Security (Broadway Meltdown), Hollywood Africans, Dos Cabezas III, Big Shoes and All Colored Cast I and II.

They feature texts and images related to famous boxers, musicians, and Hollywood films and the roles played by blacks in them. Rammellzee and Toxic join him in Los Angeles before the show and Hollywood Africans — now in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art — is a portrait of the three friends, their heads floating in a triumvirate over a yellow background.

The youngest artists at Whitney Biennial Exhibition

Also in March, Basquiat is included in the Biennial exhibition at the Whitney Museum. The exhibition includes more than forty artists, among them Keith Haring, Barbara Kruger, David Salle, and Cindy Sherman. Basquiat, at age twenty-two, is one of the youngest artists ever to participate in a Whitney Biennial. The two works exhibited are The Dutch Settlers and Untitled.

We got tickets for the opening of the New Art show at the Whitney, the Biennial. And the show is just like the sixties. … These kids are selling everything — Jean-Michel Basquiat’s show sold out in Los Angeles” (Andy Warhol).

Basquiat starts dating Paige Powell, an editor at Interview and an avid fan of his work. Through Powell, Basquiat’s relationship with Andy Warhol, publisher of Interview, intensifies.

From September to October, Basquiat has his second one-artist exhibition at the Galerie Bruno Bischofberger in Zurich. Basquiat produced a 12″ rap single featuring hip-hop artists Rammellzee and K-Rob. Billed as Rammellzee vs. K-Rob, the single contained two versions of the same track: “Beat Bop” on side one with vocals and “Beat Bop” on side two as an instrumental. The single was pressed in limited quantities on the one-off Tartown Record Company label. It is notable for being featured in the hip-hop documentary film Style Wars.

Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol: friendship and collaboration


In January, Basquiat leaves for Maui, Hawaii, a place that he frequents from then on. He rents a ranch on a remote part of the island, three hours from the airport in the town of Hana, where he sets up a studio to make drawings and paintings with materials sent from Los Angeles.

Basquiat, Brooke Bartlett and Bischofberger in Sant Moritz

Basquiat, Brooke Bartlett and Bischofberger in Sant Moritz

In February, during one of Basquiat’s frequent visits to St. Moritz, Bischofberger suggests the idea of a collaboration with Andy Warhol and Francesco Clemente for fifteen paintings. In the spring, on a visit to New York, Bischofberger proposes the collaboration to Warhol and Clemente. Both artists find it interesting and a new challenge and soon start working together with Basquiat.

In May, Basquiat has his first one-artist exhibition at the Mary Boone Michael Werner Gallery, a resounding success. Paintings include Bird as Buddha, Brown Spots (Portrait of Andy Warhol as a Banana), Eye, Untitled (Africa), and Wine of Babylon.

In August, Basquiat’s first museum exhibition opens at The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh. Organized by Mark Francis, the exhibition surveys paintings from 1981 to 1984 and travels to the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, and the Boymans-van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam.

Basquiat’s work is included in the exhibition Since the Harlem Renaissance: 50 Years of Afro-American Art, organized by the Center Gallery of Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. The two works shown, Danny Rosen and Untitled, are installed in the section “Self-Taught to Neo-Expressionism,” along with the work of graffiti artists Dondi and Futura 2000, self-taught artists William Hawkins and Bill Traylor, and expressionists Robert Colescott and Bob Thompson. Basquiat’s work is presented on the cover of the catalog.

From September to October, “Collaborations: Basquiat, Clemente, Warhol”, the group of fifteen paintings, is shown at the Galerie Bruno Bischofberger in Zurich. Paintings include Alba’s Breakfast. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog.

Warhol, Basquiat, Bischofberger and Francesco Clemente

Warhol, Basquiat, Bischofberger and Francesco Clemente

“New Art, New Money: The Marketing of an American Artist.”


In January, Basquiat has a one-artist exhibition at the Galerie Bruno Bischofberger in Zurich. Paintings shown include Max Roach, P-Z, Tabac, and Zydeco. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog.

On February 10, Basquiat appears on the cover of the New York Times Magazine, for Cathleen McGuigan’s extensive article, “New Art, New Money: The Marketing of an American Artist.” The photograph is taken by Lizzie Himmel.

He is anxiously waiting for Cathleen McGuigan. He’s wearing an expensive Armani suit for the interview, but it is splattered with paint; his hair is in dreadlocks; and his feet are bare. He is already famous in the art world with exhibitions at the hottest SoHo galleries and works shown in the Museum of Modern Art. He knows this interview could make him famous with a whole new audience.

In March, Basquiat has his second one-artist show with Mary Boone. In the exhibition catalog, the eminent scholar Robert Farris Thompson speaks of Basquiat’s art in terms of an Afro-Atlantic tradition, a context in which his art has never been discussed. Paintings in the show include Gold Griot, Grillo, Flexible, Wicker, and His Glue-Sniffing Valet.

New York Times Magazine cover - February 10 - 1985

New York Times Magazine cover, February 10, 1985

Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol – Collaboration Paintings Exibition

Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol- Poster advertising

Warhol/Basquiat Exhibition Poster

Because he is black and because he is young some critics will not be able to resist the temptation to link Basquiat to the more obvious forms of New York black and Puerto Rican street art. … In his hands black vision becomes at once private, public, didactic, playful, serious, sardonic, responsible, and, above all, deliberate. … Jean-Michel Basquiat’s blues typography, at once interruptive and complete, makes visual black song, with equivalents to pause, shout, spacing, and breath ” (Robert Farris Thompson).

Basquiat is thought to have first met Warhol in 1979 when the young artist tried to sell the Pop Art master some of his postcards. The pair met formally in 1982 when Bischofberger took Basquiat to Warhol’s Factory for a photoshoot. Basquiat and Warhol formed a great friendship. They went on to make almost 200 works together; 16 joint works were presented in a show in 1985 co-organised by Bischofberger and the dealer Tony Shafrazi in New York.

From September to October, sixteen collaborative paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol are shown at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery. At Shafrazi’s suggestion, the two artists pose together in boxing trunks and gloves for a poster advertising the show.


In January, Basquiat travels to Los Angeles for two weeks for what is to be his last show at the Larry Gagosian Gallery. Paintings in the show include Peruvian Maid, J’s Milagro, and Link Parabole.

In April, Galerie Bruno Bischofberger publishes the catalog “Jean-Michel Basquiat: Drawings”, illustrating the Daros Suite of thirty-two drawings from 1982-83, and organizes an exhibition of these and other drawings at the gallery in Zurich.

Basquiat, Jennifer Goode and Philippe Briet in Africa

Basquiat, Jennifer Goode and Philippe Briet in Africa

In October, Basquiat, accompanied by his girlfriend Jennifer Goode and Philippe Briet, who one year later opened his own gallery in New York, travels to Africa for the first time. He is met there by Bischofberger, who, at Basquiat’s urging, has arranged a show in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
Paintings there include Charles the First and Jawbone of an Ass.

In November, a large survey exhibition of more than sixty paintings and drawings opens at the Kestner-Gesellschaft in Hannover. Organized by Carl Haenlein, this is Basquiat’s second museum survey exhibition in a European museum; at twenty-five, he is the youngest artist ever to be given an exhibition there. Collaborations: Basquiat and Warhol is exhibited at the Galerie Bruno Bischofberger in Zurich.

He had to live up to being a young prodigy, which is a kind of false sainthood” (Keith Haring).

Andy Warhol dies


On February 22, Andy Warhol, at the age of fifty-eight, dies after gall bladder surgery at New York Hospital. Though their friendship had suffered in the last year, Basquiat is devastated by this tragic loss. He paints Gravestone, a memorial to Warhol. He becomes more reclusive, often refusing to see friends.

From May through June, three large works on paper are shown at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery.

Gravestone - Basquiat



In January, Basquiat exhibits new paintings for one night at Vrej Baghoomian’s gallery at the Cable Building in SoHo. The paintings are those being sent to shows in Paris and Dusseldorf.

Also in January, Basquiat travels to Paris for his one-artist show at the Galerie Yvon Lambert. Paintings include Light Blue Movers, Riddle Me This, Batman, and She Installs Confidence and Picks his Brain Like a Salad.

Basquiat - Riding with death

Riding with Death

In the same month, Basquiat travels to his one-artist exhibition at the Galerie Hans Mayer in Dusseldorf.

He returns to New York for a show at the Vrej Baghoomian Gallery in April. Works include Eroica I and II, The Dingoes That Park Their Brains with Their Gum, and Riding with Death.

Basquiat, who has never been successfully treated in a drug abuse program, attempts to kick the habit by leaving New York for Hawaii in May. He returns from Hawaii at the end of June, after stopping for a week in Los Angeles.

On Friday, August 12, Jean-Michel Basquiat dies in his Great Jones Street loft at age twenty-seven. The autopsy report from the office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Manhattan Mortuary, lists cause of death as “acute mixed drug intoxication.”

On August 17, a private funeral is held at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel on Madison Avenue and 8ist Street. The funeral is attended by the immediate family and close friends, including Keith Haring, Francesco Clemente, and Paige Powell. Jeffrey Deitch delivers the eulogy. Basquiat is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

On November 5, about three hundred of Basquiat’s friends and admirers attend a memorial gathering at St. Peter’s Church at Lexington Avenue and 54th Street. Music is played by Gray and others, poetry is recited, including a particularly moving reading by Suzanne Mallouk of A. R. Penck’s “Poem for Basquiat.”

Jean-Michel Basquiat lived like a flame. He burned really bright. Then the fire went out. But the embers are still hot” (Fab 5 Freddy).

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