John Bezold

Basquiat: The Artist & His New York Scene


This book, Basquiat: The Artist & His New York Scene, offers an unprecedented perspective on the life, work, and milieu of Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988)—an African-American artist active in New York City during the turbulent 1980s, when the city was undergoing radical shifts as it related to its politics, finances, and thus the art produced by its artists. His work spanned all mediums–from graffiti to painting, to collages, to sculpture. At first glance enigmatic; the work of Basquiat is complex in its symbolism and meaning, with nearly all of it directly reflecting his own views on the era’s social issues; namely, segregation by race and class, established institutions of power, and the effects of deindustrialization upon New York City. Basquiat first found fame for his graffiti placed throughout the city’s Lower East Side, his painting, quickly gaining further prestige via collaborations with his contemporaries. An outsider in the art world; Basquiat’s work quickly caught the attention of galleries in Europe and the USA, which initiated the muzealization of graffiti art. Since then, his paintings have come to be some of the most expensive ever auctioned. This visually rich volume contains numerous essays alongside countless intimate photographs of Basquiat at home, at work, and with friends; artworks and ephemera from exhibitions he and his friends participated in; and illuminates the little-known connections between Basquiat, and the Netherlands.

Read a review in the French magazine Graffiti Art, March-April 2019.