The 1980s was a time of great excess and money. You saw it in sex and drugs and in the art world. Wall Street’s investment bankers were happy to hunt out the hottest painters, often making them into instant celebrities.
No artist of that era was hotter than Jean Michel Basquiat, who appeared on the scene with practically no training, blending his graffiti art and stick figures and symbols. When he died of a heroine overdose at the age of 27, he had already achieved the kind of fame few artists ever see.
Question that followed Basquiat through his short life, remain today. Was he one of those passing fads of the 1980s, or was he, as some consider him, the last great painter of the 20th century?
Kellie Jones, co-curator of the Brooklyn Museum’s Basquiat retrospective
Carey Lovelace, art critic.