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Jean-Michel Basquiat (December 22, 1960 – August 12, 1988) was an American artist. Basquiat first achieved fame as part of SAMO, an informal graffiti duo who wrote enigmatic epigrams in the cultural hotbed of the Lower East Side of Manhattan during the late 1970s where the hip hop, punk, and street art cultures had coalesced. By the 1980s, he was exhibiting his neo-expressionist paintings in galleries and museums internationally. The Whitney Museum of American Art held a retrospective of his art in 1992.
Basquiat's art focused on "suggestive dichotomies", such as wealth versus poverty, integration versus segregation, and inner versus outer experience. He appropriated poetry, drawing, and painting, and married text and image, abstraction, figuration, and historical information mixed with contemporary critique.
Basquiat used social commentary in his paintings as a "springboard to deeper truths about the individual", as well as attacks on power structures and systems of racism, while his poetics were acutely political and direct in their criticism of colonialism and support for class struggle. He died of a heroin overdose at his art studio at the age of 27.
On May 18, 2017, at a Sotheby's auction, a 1982 painting by Basquiat depicting a skull ("Untitled") set a new record high for any American artist at auction, selling for $110.5 million.
Jennifer Clement (a friend of his long-term girlfriend Suzanne Mallouk) specifically described his sexuality as "not monochromatic. It did not rely on visual stimulation, such as a pretty girl. It was a very rich multichromatic sexuality. He was attracted to people for all different reasons... It was, I think, driven by intelligence. He was attracted to intelligence more than anything and to pain."
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