This Brooklyn-born artist with Haitian and Puerto Rican roots used graffiti, installations and music to comment on the world around him. The neo-expressionist painter started his career in the early 1980s writing epigrams in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and became famous as part of the graf duo “SAMO.” He used images, painting and drawing along with text to open dialogue about various issues.
Basquiat’s habit of writing and drawing on everyday objects incorporated art into daily life. “Defacement”, a critique of police brutality that killed fellow artist is a private work that’s now being made public this year. Whether talking about racism, cultural erasure, or celebrating black and brown people, Basquiat always made a statement.