Short Biography: Jean Michel Basquiat

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Research Paper

Jean Michel Basquiat

Research Paper

Jean Michel Basquiat

Carin M. Deeter

Art Appreciation 101

November 10, 2011

Life……….You’re either too busy or stupid to usually enjoy it. I feel like I was actually

unfortunate enough to be both. I look back on all the mistakes I made and I see why I wasn’t

around to celebrate my 50th birthday last year. Heck, I barely even made it halfway there. I can

only remember a handful of times that I was ever truly enjoying my life…..most of the time I

was just trying to get by.

My life started out normal enough I guess. I was born 3 days before Christmas in 1960, in

Brooklyn Hospital. It really was a bad deal for my birthday and Christmas to be so close

together. I felt I always got the short end of the stick as far as presents went. My parents were

Gerard and Matilde. . I have two younger sisters, Lisane, born in 1964, and Jeanine, born in

My sister Jeanine in front of one of my works.

One of my worst childhood memories was when I got hit by a car the year after Jeanine was

born. I was playing in the street, and not watching for cars like I had been told. I ended up in

the hospital with a broken arm. I had quite a few internal injuries too. I had to have a

splenectomy. During a month-long recuperation in the hospital, my mother gave me a copy of

the book Grey’s Anatomy, which greatly influenced later work.
That whole year was pretty much full of bad memories. My mother started showing signs of

mental illness and my parents split up. My sisters and I lived with my dad in Boerum Hill,

Brooklyn for five years, then we moved to Puerto Rico in 1974. We lived there for 2 years and

then we moved back to New York City in 1976.

It wasn’t long after that I decided to run away from home. I was a 15 year old kid, thinking I

knew it all. It wasn’t much fun sleeping on the park benches in Washington Square Park. I was

only gone for a week before the cops arrested me and took me home to my dad. Two weeks

later, I dropped out of school. I just figured the 10th grade at City As School holds nothing for

me. I got a lot of laughs from throwing a cream pie in my principals face before I left though.

Then my dad kicked me out of the house. I was on my own. That was alright with me because I

had my friends. I supported myself by selling t-shirts and homemade postcards.

I could usually be found down in Lower Manhattan. I worked at the Unique Clothing

Warehouse. When I wasn’t working, my friends Al Diaz and Shannon Dawson, and I began

spray painting graffiti on buildings under the pseudonym of SAMO. We came up with some

pretty crazy sayings. My favorite was “SAMO as an escape clause”

On December 11, 1978, The Village Voice published an article about our graffiti. That was

pretty cool. We decided to kill the SAMO graffiti the next year with an epitaph of “SAMO IS

DEAD” on the walls of Soho buildings. Those were some really good times.


My favorite picture of myself because it states the truth.
My favorite picture of myself because it states the truth.

The following year I appeared on a television show called TV Party. It was hosted by Glenn O’Brien. I became good friends with Glenn and I made regular appearances on his show over the next few years. Also in 1979, I started up a band with some friends. We called our band “Gray”. We performed in some nightclubs and did some private parties. I also starred in my friend Glenn’s independent film “ Downtown 81” I also had a small part in Blondie’s music video “Rapture” as a nightclub disc jockey.

That bring us to the summer of 1980. Nearly twenty years of my life had already passed me by.

In June an abstract graffiti-like work in the alternative “Time Square Show” gave me my first...
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