Jean-Michel Basquiat (American, 22nd, December 1960 - 12th, August 1988), was one of the first African-American artists who became famous in the art world. He had a short but prolific career. He was known for his fusion of multicultural symbols, his sarcastic remarks, his distinctive graphical style and often by his temperamental personality. He was born in Brooklyn, New York and began to draw and regularly visit museums at an early age. Many things with which he occupied himself in his childhood (from cartoons, films of Alfred Hitchcock to French and Spanish books) had an influence on his later works. Basquiat dropped out of school at the age of 17 and began to work as an artist. Through his invented synonym SAMO ("Same Old Shit"), he quickly gained fame.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s Basquiat created graffitis with his SAMO signature, combined them with cryptic phrases and began to paint salvaged objects, buildings, t-shirts and commercial things. He studied in detail the urban avant-garde culture of New York City of the 1980s and produced very expressive images, which brought him considerable recognition in 1982 after which his first solo exhibition followed. In 1983 he became friends with his idol Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987), and the two worked together on several projects. Basquiat combined African, Aztec, Hispanic, Ancient Roman and Greek imagery with his own iconographic and graphical indicators.

Basquiat was always faithful to his African American roots. His paintings often reflected racial conflicts in America and the culture of the African Diaspora. Mid-1980s he began, much to the concern of his friends and colleagues, to abuse drugs. His moodiness and temperament got worse because of that. The death of Andy Warhol in 1987 hit Basquiat hard and he painted several works in ecstasy, with an apocalyptic imagery that often themed death. He died 1988 from an overdose of drugs after a short but distinguished career.