My Friend Jean

The collection of original drawings, ephemera and furnishings presented here come from an artist and close friend of Jean-Michel Basquiat. The two met one night in December of 1979 in front of the infamous New York nightclub, Tier 3. She was immediately drawn to Jean’s bold, charismatic personality.

Jean-Michel Basquiat at the present owner's art opening at New Math Gallery, 1985. Photo from the East Village Report.

Listen as the owner of this special collection shares stories of her friendship with Jean-Michel Basquiat, the New York art scene, these works and more!

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat was a prolific figure of the 1980s New York art scene rising quickly to fame at a young age before leaving behind a dynamic legacy. Born in Brooklyn, New York to parents of Haitian and Puerto Rican heritage he was raised fluent in French, Spanish, and English. The melding of traditions and odes to African-Caribbean heritage would later become reoccurring themes in his neo-expressionistic body of work. Basquiat showed an interest in art at a young age frequently visiting the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York among other institutions with his mother.

By 1979, Basquiat was becoming a recognized figure for his graffiti emblazing the Lower East Side with classmate Al Diaz who together formed the creative collaboration SAMO. At the age of seventeen, Basquiat dropped out of school altogether to pursue his career in art. He began selling hand-painted postcards and t-shirts near the steps of the Museum of Modern Art, New York while becoming immersed in the city's art scene in the same year forming a relationship and collaboration with Keith Haring. Basquiat’s first exhibition was a group show in 1980 titled the Times Square Show presenting the downtown and uptown avant-garde works with artists such as Jenny Holzer and Kenny Scharf.

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