As one of art history’s most iconic figures, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s multimedia works – which range from sculptural collage to large-scale canvases – are some of the most widely recognised in the world.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1960, Basquiat achieved cult fame as one half of street-art duo SAMO in the late 1970s. As a solo artist, he rose to the forefront of the New York art scene alongside other leading artists and collaborators, Andy Warhol and Keith Haring.
Basquiat honed a signature style characterised by obsessive scribbling, obscure diagrams and mysterious symbols, including the crown, the snake and the skull. Although his sources were eclectic, Basquiat found particular inspiration in his Caribbean heritage; his father was Haitian and mother of Puerto Rican descent.
Basquiat’s first painting was bought by Blondie lead singer, Debbie Harry, for $200 in 1980, which stands in stark contrast with his current auction record of $110.5 million set in May 2017 for his Untitled painting of a skull from 1982. A highly celebrated artist in his time, Basquiat has recently been the subject of several major retrospectives, including at the Barbican Centre, London (2017), the Brant Foundation and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (both in 2019), and at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2021).