Who is Jean-Michel Basquiat?

Bird on Money is an excellent example of Basquiat art in which the street art legend paid tribute to one of his heroes, jazz musician Charlie Parker.

Remember when you were perhaps 3 years old and scribbled on a wall at home?  What fun to paint and draw on a big blank wall! (Not so fun for mum and dad if they don’t know you are doing this – so if you want to try this now please do get their permission!)

What is Graffiti? If done in a public space, your artwork on a wall would be called “graffiti”. Some famous graffiti artists have created very relevant art which carry a meaningful message to the public like, “stop the war” or “save the planet”.  These artists were not always famous. In most cases they were youngsters bursting to express their message to the public. Often graffiti is considered destructive to public property and so graffiti artists need to be careful of where they create their art.

Some great graffiti artists of our times – Alexandre Manuel Dias Farto (known as Vhils) is a Portuguese graffiti artist who started graffiti art at the age of 10. Another artist who keeps emerging in the news every now and again is Banksy, the anonymous graffiti artist whose work mysteriously pops up in different cities around the world. (Watch this space on more on Banksy)

A monumental masterpiece by late graffiti artist-turned-expressionist painter, Jean-Michel Basquiat has sold for a record-breaking amount in New York.

Child Prodigy, Basquiat – The Barbican museum in London is presently displaying the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat, a young New York artist in the 1980s. Basquiat was self-taught.  At the age of 17, he started writing poetic graffiti under the character of “SAMO©”. Basquiat worked in various media creating poetry, performance art, music, paintings, drawings and making objects. His art usually portrays opposites – like wealthy verses poverty, inner versus outer experience. Once he courageously sold a postcard to his hero and renowned pop artist, Andy Warhol. A few years later Warhol and him created a painting together! What an incredibly confident and talented young man – one that prompted Banksy to create a painting on the Barbican walls just days before the opening of the Basquiat exhibition!

Here are some of his works:


Written By: Purnima Thacker, a keen art admirer, nature enthusiast, intellectual property lawyer and mum to a curious 8 year old.


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