Although his art career was brief, Jean-Michel Basquiat, the artist once described as an "urban noble savage", has been credited with bringing the African-American and Latino experience to the elite art world. A poet, musician, and graffiti prodigy, Jean-Michel Basquiat achieved almost instantaneous success with his Graffiti Art in 1980s New York.

Born in 1960, to upper middle-class parents in Brooklyn, he displayed a talent for art in early childhood, learning to draw and paint with his mother's encouragement. Basquiat's mother was of Puerto Rican heritage and his father a Haitian immigrant, the combination of which eventually led to his fluency in French, Spanish, and English.

A self-taught artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat began creating art full time, gaining notoriety for his invented character SAMO. He depicted his signature in graffiti art with cryptic messages in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and began painting on found materials, buildings, t-shirts, and commercial items. He delved into the urban 1980s avant-garde culture of New York, creating wildly expressive paintings which earned him considerable acclaim by his first solo exhibition in 1982.

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