Jean-Michel Basquiat was an influential American artist of Haitian and Puerto Rican descent. 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 hip hop, punk, and street art cultures coalesced. By the 1980s, his neo-expressionistpaintings were being exhibited in galleries and museums internationally.
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 structuresand systems of racism, while his poetics were acutely political and direct in their criticism of colonialism and support for class struggle. Basquiat was often seen as a young protoge of Pop artist Andy Warhol. Together, the pair collaborated on a series of paintings between 1983 and 1985. The young artist's work rose to prominence during the emergence on the Hip Hop movement in the late 1980s. He achieved critical sucess and celebrated as an artistic phenomenon prior to his untimely death at the age of 27.