Today's Black Excellence Spotlight belongs to the legendary Jean Michel Basquiat. There are plenty of you that have heard the name but may not be able to put a face to it and then there are even more of you that may have never even heard of this man before. Well I bet you've heard of Andy Warhol, yeah, this guy inspired some of his work (and vice versa) You Gon Learn Today! Read a brief history and watch the full "Radiant Child" Documentary on Basquiat, and see a few of his paintings after the Jump.
Jean Michel Basquiat aka SAMO was born on December 22nd, 1960 in Brooklyn, New York. Jean Michel dropped out of school in the 10th grade and was kicked out of his home by his father, all at the age of 15. He slept on the streets and took care of himself by selling t-shirts and postcards he made on the streets. While on the streets he was forced to grow up fast, but he enjoyed the life. After some time he moved from the streets of Brooklyn to Washington Square Park in the NoHo section of New York City. Not too long after he started living in Washington Sq Park Basquiat and his friend Al Diaz started spray painting meaningful yet rebellious statements and graffiti on the side of buildings in SoHo and signing them "SAMO". During the 70's and 80's Graffiti was huge in NYC, it was literally everywhere but no one had actually wrote statements that held any meaning before Basquiat and Diaz. Literally everyone wanted to know who SAMO was and after building suspense Basquiat announced himself as SAMO. This was when he first gained mainstream recognition. After being recognized as SAMO basquiat continued to tag all the buildings he deemed suitable with his attention grasping quotes and questions and signing them SAMO. This boldness made him stand out just as much as his Half shaved half dread locked hair cut.
I won't give his whole life story here I'll give you the pleasure of watching the documentary below which will touch on everything from his relationship with Madonna, yes the superstar Madonna, and how he met Andy Warhol to Warhol's suicide. I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I did. Below the documentary you will find some more photos of Basquiat and his art work.