Jean-Michel Basquiat was born in New York on February 22, 1960, his father is from Haiti, his mother is Puertorican. In 1978 Jean-Michel Basquiat, along with his friend Al Diaz, begins his artistic career as a graffiti sprayer in the streets of New York, he signs his graffitis "SAMO", which stands for "Same old Shit". He earns a living by selling painted postcards and T-shirts, he makes assemblages from scrap metal. He soon calls the attention of the New York art scene. Basquiat meets Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf, who both find inspiration in the graffiti scene.
Jean-Michel Basquiat's very authentic painting style, that he has been applying to paper and canvas as of the 1980s, makes him a star almost over night. In 1980 Jean-Michel Basquiat partakes in the "Times Square Show", which earns him a lot of attention. In 1981 the art critic René Ricard publishes the article "The Radiant Child" in the magazine "Artforum". His breakthhrough as an artist finally takes place when he participates in the exhibition "New York / New Wave" in the P.S.1. the same year. At the age of 21 Jean-Michel Basquiat is the youngest artist ever who is invited to the renown documenta exhibition in Kassel. Exhibitions in Europe, Japan and the United States follow and earn him world-wide acknowledgement, his works are popular with critics, collectors and other artists.
In 1984 Jean-Michel Basquiat gets to know Francesco Clemente and Andy Warhol, with whom he works together. Andy Warhol does not only become his patron, but also a very close friend.
Jean-Michel Basquiat dies of an overdose of heroin on August 12, 1988. Julian Schnabel portraits the artist in the film "Basquiat" in 1996.