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Jean-Michel Basquiat, (born December 22, 1960, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.—died August 12, 1988, New York City) Jean-Michel Basquiat moved from graffiti artist to downtown punk scenester to celebrity art star in only the few short years of his career. This vertiginous rise took him from sleeping on the streets of New York City to being befriended by Andy Warhol and entering into the elite American art world as one of the most celebrated painters of the Neo-Expressionism art movement. Whilst Basquiat died at only 27 of a heroin overdose, he has now become indelibly associated with the surge in interest in downtown artists in New York during the 1980s. His work explored his mixed African, Latinx, and American heritage through a visual vocabulary of personally resonant signs, symbols, and figures, and his art developed rapidly in scale, scope, and ambition as he moved from the street to the gallery. Much of his work referenced the distinction between wealth and poverty, and reflected his unique position as a working-class person of color within the celebrity art world. In the years following his death, the attention to (and value of) his work has steadily increased, with one painting even setting a new record in 2017 for the highest price paid for an American artist's work at auction.

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