They have all been inspired by or collect art by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Jean-Michel Basquiat is the only Afro-Caribbean artist who really seems to speak to Hip-Hop artists. His name is commonly referred to in raps by those artists. There is a kinship, in a sense, because they are all African-American men, who use their art to express their place in the urban landscape.
Basquiat (1960-1988) was born in Brooklyn, New York. He came of age in the 1970’s, when there was strong hybridization of street life, music and multiculturalism. One of the by-products of this pollination was hip-hop, which revolutionized popular culture. Basquiat was influenced by his Haitian/Puerto Rican heritage, Jazz, French poetry, and the art of Franz Kline and Cy Twombly. Around 1977, Basquiat started to spray images and texts on walls and buildings under the name or “tag” SAMO, which stood for Same Old. He became a popular figure in the thriving creative hot bed that was the Lower East Side of New York. In 1980, Basquiat was discovered by the art world. His emotionally stimulating style fusing text, graffiti and cartoon, developed into one of the most significant interpretations of modern painting. Sadly Jean-Michel Basquiat’s career was short lived. He died of a drug overdose at the age of 27.
The Special Collections Department, of the Cleveland Public Library, has two books that allow viewers to escape into the world of this cultural phenomenon.
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Drawings
NC179.B37 A4 1985
Works on Paper
Q NC139 .B373 A4 1999