Icon: Jean-Michel Basquiat, American artist
"I am not a black artist, I am an artist."
"I don't listen to what art critics say. I don't know anybody who needs a critic to find out what art is."
The first artist of national descent to become and international star in art, Basquiat started as a graffiti artist but eventually evolved into a neo-expressionist painter. His work incorporated folk images fused with modern abstract styles. He often used his work as commentary on the state of African-Americans post Jim Crow era, especially taking aim at complicit blacks who he felt were only puppets of the dominant white ideology. One example of this is his 1981 piece "Irony of Negro Policeman". He was close friend with Andy Warhol and though he possessed a great deal of talent and potential, his life was plagued by drug use. In 1988, Basquiat died of a heroin overdose at the age of 27, one year after the death of Warhol.
Below, the two can be seen in a British documentary State of the Art.
I previously posted an editorial with model Ty Okungoya posing as Basquiat for Vogue Hommes international. View the post here.