The Impact Of Jean-Michel Basquiat's Artwork

Jean-Michel Basquiat is the artist who made the great leap from graffiti to major art galleries. He was born to a Haitian father and a Puerto Rican mother, a heritage which proved to be one of the major influences in his artwork. The oldest of three children, he was considered to be very bright and gifted. At four, he learned to read and write, and at eleven, he was speaking Spanish, English, and French fluently. At his very young age, he was already showing signs of a great talent, which was immediately recognized and encouraged by his mother and teachers. His mother brought him on several occasions to Manhattan to see artwork by prominent artists and eventually enrolled him in the Brooklyn Museum of Art as a junior member.

The artist's childhood wasn't a glorious one as he had his own share of grief and traumatic experiences. He was hit by a car at the age of eight and spent a month in the hospital recovering. While in the hospital, something very positive happened that was to influence his artwork immensely. His mother brought him the "Grey's Anatomy," a book which kept him quite busy during his recovery period and which was to have a great influence in his own work as an artist. After his recovery, his parents separated, and the young Jean-Michel Basquiat saw his mother move from one mental institution to another. Jean-Michel Basquiat and his sisters were raised in Brooklyn by their father and later moved to Puerto Rico in 1975. Jean-Michel Basquiat tried to run away from home, but was immediately picked up by the police. At 15, he successfully ran away from home and slept on benches in the park.

The young artist never received any formal education on painting. He attended the culture centered progressive City as School program. It was here he met Al Diaz and Shannon Dawson who shared his interest in comics and graffiti. He also developed the character tag SAMO when he was in high school. Jean-Michel Basquiat never completed high school. He developed his artwork as a street painter who, with other friends, when along the streets tagging images with poetic texts that were sarcastic, political, or humorous.

He started his career as a painter on sheets of paper his father brought home, creating paintings that feature images of angular people, lone words, symbols, and phrases. Critics and art historians love his work for its composition, balance between control and spontaneity, and color. At his early 20s, his work was appraised in leading Soho galleries, including the Mary Boone Gallery and the Annina Nosei Gallery. His work was exhibited in prominent art galleries from Soho to Tokyo, Paris, and Dusseldorf, becoming one of the most sought after art for sale. More than two decades later, his works sold between $ 25,000 and $ 50,000. His paintings are included in the collections of the AMuseum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. The artist died of an overdose of heroin, but his contribution to modern art cannot be underestimated. Jean-Michel Basquiat's work continues to influence many artists, especially those who love comics and graffiti.

The De Young Museum – Artwork Highlights & Tips for Visiting

The M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, located in San Francisco, California houses one of the most significant collections of American artwork on the West Coast. The Museum is located in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park and was opened in 1895 by newspaper icon M.H. de Young, founder of what is known today as the San Francisco Chronicle. The original Museum collection was comprised solely of M.H. de Young’s personal artwork collection that represented over 300,000 articles that were collected during his 20 years of world travels.

The Museum’s permanent collection today includes paintings, sketches, art sculpture, photographs, and decorative art objects. Of this, the De Young displays 25,000 works of art at any given time. The majority of its collection is made up of the American art collection with artwork dating back from the 7th century to present day. Highlights of this collection include Wayne Thiebaud’s Three Machines, Frederic Edwin Church’s Rainy Season in the Tropics, Grant Wood’s Dinner for Threshers, George Bingham’s Boatmen on the Missouri, and Chiura Obata’s Lake Basin in the High Sierra.

The de Young’s permanent collection also includes the Art of Africa, that represents artwork from over 80 cultural and ethnic groups in sub-Sahara Africa. The collection comprises a large part of the permanent collection and an covers a quarter of the museum’s gallery. Among this collection is a wooden Dogon sculpture used in religious ceremonies and a multi-headed bush spirit from Ijo.

The third major part of the Museum’s permanent collection is the Art of Oceana. The highlight of the Oceana exhibit is the The Jolika Collection of New Guinea Art, a special exhibition of over 400 tribal artifacts such as tribal masks and ritualistic objects. The Jolika collection is the largest collection of New Guinea Art in North America and includes over 400 works of art alone.

  • Hours: Daily: 930a-515p; Closed Mondays.
  • Audio Guides are available at the Main Entrance. Cost: $7.
  • The de Young Memorial Museum offers free guided tours to all visitors. No reservations required. Check with the Museum for scheduling.
  • If you are visiting San Francisco for a few days, you may consider purchasing a CityPASS Card. It gives discounted admission to tourist attractions and Cable Car. Check their website for details.
  • The first Tuesday of every month is Free admission.
  • Admission tickets to the de Young includes same-day general admission to the Legion of Honor.