August 12, 1988…
Outsider artist turned ultimate insider, Basquiat rose from virtual hobo to international sensation in a few short years.
Befriending Andy Warhol in 1982, he eventually moved into Warhol‘s building on Great Jones Street…
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As Basquiat‘s art star rose, his prodigious drug habit led to greater and greater intakes of coke and heroin speedballs. He finally overdosed in his loft on August ’88.
Basquiat‘s mother, Matilde, was Puerto Rican and his father, Gerard Jean-Baptiste,
is of Haitian origin.
At an early age, Basquiat displayed an aptitude for art and was encouraged by his mother to draw, paint, and to participate in other art-related activities. In 1977, when he was 17, Basquiat and his friend Al Diaz started spray-painting graffiti art on slum buildings in lower Manhattan, adding the infamous signature of “SAMO” or “SAMO shit” (i.e. “same ol’ shit”). The graphics were pithy messages such as “Plush safe he think; SAMO” and “SAMO is an escape clause”.
In December 1978, the Village Voice published an article about the writings.
The SAMO project ended with the epitaph SAMO IS DEAD written on the walls of SoHo buildings.