Liberal Arts Blog — Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–1988). Keith Haring (1958–1990), Julian Schnabel (1951- )

Liberal Arts Blog — Friday is the Joy of Art, Architecture, Design, Film, and All Things Visual Day

Today’s Topic — Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–1988). Keith Haring (1958–1990), Julian Schnabel (1951- )

Great hustlers? Great artists? Both? No painters of the last fifty years have gotten more press than this trio. Was it warranted? Today a few notes and three works of art. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT (1960–1988) — graffitti artist — “talentless hustler” or gifted genius and incisive social critic ?

1. Born in Brooklyn in 1960. Haitian father. Puerto Rican mother. Died of heroine overdose at age 27.

2. “Basquiat’s art focused on 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 and figuration and historical information mixed with contemporary critique. Basquiat used social commentary in his paintings as a tool for introspection and for identifying with his experiences in the black community of his time, as well as attacks on power structures and systems of racism. Basquiat’s visual poetics were acutely political and direct in their criticism of colonialism and support for class struggle.”

3. His work has been especially popular among celebrity collectors: eg. Madonna, David Bowie, Leonardo Di Caprio, Jay-Z, Johnny Depp. A painting of Basquiat, Untitled, from 1992 sold for over $100 million in 2017.

NB: “ I had some money, I made the best paintings ever. I was completely reclusive, worked a lot, took a lot of drugs. I was awful to people.” (Jean-Michel Basquiat)

KEITH HARING (1958–1990) — New York City subway artist and social activist

1. Born in Reading, Pennsylvania his father was an engineer and amateur cartoonist.

2. “His early influences included Walt Disney cartoons, Dr. Seuss, Charles Schulz, and the Looney Tunes characters in The Bugs Bunny Show.”

3. His friendship with Andy Warhol was critical in launching his career. (This was also the case with Basquiat.)

NB: He died of AIDS-related complications at age 32. Highest price Haring: $6.6 million.

JULIAN SCHNABEL (1951 — ) — “large-scale paintings set on broken ceramic plates”

1. Born in Brooklyn, NY.” He moved with his family to Brownsville, Texas in 1965. He received his B.F.A. at the University of Houston. After graduating, he sent an application to the Independent Study Program (ISP) at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. His application included slides of his work sandwiched between two pieces of bread. He was admitted into the program and studied there from 1973–1975.”

2. His breakthrough came at the Mary Boone Gallery in New York City in 1979. Highest priced Schnabel: $1.8 million.

NB: Schabel had a second career as film maker. In 1996 he produced a biopic on Basquiat with an all-star cast including Jeffrey Wright, David Bowie, Gary Oldman, Dennis Hopper, Schnabel:

“I know what it’s like to be attacked as an artist. I know what it’s like to be judged as an artist. I know what it’s like to arrive as an artist and have fame and notoriety. I know what it’s like to be accused of things that you never said or did. I know what it’s like to be described as a piece of hype. I know what it’s like to be appreciated as well as degraded.”

Art critic Brooks Adams on “Basquiat” (the film): “Basquiat can be seen as a huge, lurking self-portrait of the artist-Schnabel, not Basquiat. So laden is the film with the innumerable coincidences of Basquiat and Schnabel’s enthusiasms (among others, for pajamas and surfing) that the movie should be more appropriately called My Basquiat… To a remarkable degree, the movie succeeds, by dint of its authorial slant, in popularizing the myth of Basquiat as a young, gorgeous, doomed, yet ultimately transcendent black male artist, even as it extends and reinflates the myth of Schnabel as a protean, Picassoid white male painter… Yet for all one’s apprehension about the very idea of Schnabel making such a film, Basquiat turns out to be a surprisingly good movie…It is also an art work.” Has anyone seen the film?

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Keith Haring

Crack is Wack

Julian Schnabel


Mary Boone

Basquiat (film)

For the last three years of posts organized by theme:

PDF with headlines — Google Drive


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John Muresianu

Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.