portrait of this blog's author - by Stephen Blackman 2008

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


I found the BBC programme Jean-Michel Basquiat ‘Rage to Riches’ deeply and profoundly affecting. . .it is a sad story and yet another of the descent into addiction drug use and death repeated over and over by so many but that my inner rescuer wished to save him because he was an artist merely adds to the pathos. Not that he helped himself however, he never had a bank account and wished to be paid in cash and when his success came hurtling in under a year from painting street graffiti to $25,000 plus per canvas, this had its attendant problems and was replaced by his asking to be paid in drugs at times . . . . . . 

I was looking for an apocryphal story about someone visiting his studio which Mary Boone and helped him get and finding sacks (yes huge sacks!) of cannabis all over the studio and wads of thousands upon thousands of dollars stuffed everywhere. He gave so much money away to homeless people and people on the streets and is alleged to have said when asked why that it helped him find out what money was. He needed a trusted confidant to say "Now don't be silly, I'll open a bank account" and a manager and trusted helpmate but somehow he couldn’t find anyone to fit that bill  . . . . . . . .until meeting with Andy Warhol who’s record in this area was not good (see Edie Sedgwick)

Mary Boone and Jean-Michel
Basquiat dancing at the Mudd Club, New York City, 1979.  ©Courtesy Nicholas Taylor.

A brief article about Jean-Michel and worth a read if you can stand the implications that the art world killed him


Rage to Riches

The account of Jean-Michel’s response to hearing Andy had died is profoundly moving and there is SOME evidence Andy wanted to try to help him and stop the drug abuse but was ostracised by Jean-Michel, too late after reading a press clipping that insulted his collaboration with Andy and the trust was broken

Sad story and worth visiting the show at the Barbican in London if one can as it is likely to be a once in a life time of a young brilliant (and IMHO conceivably possessed of genius artist) in our lifetime. The notion he was a “ primitive" is offensive and deeply racist and misunderstands the intense intellectual content and intelligence of his work . . . . . . . 

great great unique painter

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