Jean Michel Basquiat was a graffiti artist and painter who died in 1988 at 27.
His work often referenced African American culture and used bright colors and bold brushstrokes.
His famous quotes include, “Inner beauty is more important than outer beauty” and “I paint my experience, not what people tell me I should paint.”
This article provides a few quotes from Basquiat that offers a taste of his unique perspective on life.
Jean Michel Basquiat Quotes
“I wanted to build up a name for myself.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat
“I thought I was going to be a bum the rest of my life.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat
“Most Young Kings Get Their Heads Cut Off.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat
“Fire will attract more attention than any other cry for help.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat
“There are about 30 words around you all the time, like ‘thread’ or ‘exit.’” — Jean-Michel Basquiat
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“The country makes me more paranoid, you know? I think the crazy people out there are little crazier.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat
“[Gray] was a noise band. I played a guitar with a file and a synthesizer. I was inspired by John Cage at the time – music that isn’t really music. We were trying to be incomplete, abrasive, oddly beautiful.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat
“Every single line means something.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat
“I enjoy that they think I’m a bad boy. I think it’s great.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat
“I’d think about all my heroes, Charlie Parker, Jimi Hendrix… I had a romantic feeling about how these people became famous.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat
“At that point, [an artist] was somebody who could draw, but my ideas have changed since then. Now I see an artist as something a lot broader than that.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat
“I think there’s a lot of people that are neglected in art.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat
“Since I was seventeen I thought I might be a star.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat
“I wanted to be a cartoonist when I was young.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat
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“I was a really lousy artist as a kid. Too abstract expressionist; or I’d draw a big ram’s head, really messy. I’d never win painting contests. I remember losing to a guy who did a perfect Spiderman.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat
“I had some money, I made the best paintings ever. I was completely reclusive, worked a lot, and took many drugs. I was awful to people.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat
“I am not a black artist, I am an artist.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat
“I was trying to make paintings different from the paintings that I saw a lot of at the time, which were mostly minimal, and they were highbrow and alienating, and I wanted to make very direct paintings that most people would feel the emotion behind when they saw them.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat
“I don’t listen to what art critics say. I don’t know anybody who needs a critic to find out what art is.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat
“I like to have information rather than just have a brushstroke. Just to have these words to put in these feelings underneath.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat
“I was trying to communicate an idea; I was trying to paint a very urban landscape.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat
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“The black person is the protagonist in most of my paintings. I realized that I didn’t see many paintings with black people in them.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat
His earliest, most vivid memory was getting hit by a car
Before he was known as Jean-Michel, he was “SAMO
The first painting he sold was to Debbie Harry
He dealt with pervasive racism throughout his career.
Undoubtedly Basquiat focused on expressing his view of the world through his paintings. He touched on wealth and poverty, what it meant to be a black man in a white-dominated society, racism, and the power systems that supported its inequity.
Basquiat was the first artist to pile up the underground street art culture with museum-quality fine art. In that way, this is the story of the young, unknown guy from the streets of Manhattan who pushed open the doors of the elitist art society.
The appeal of Basquiat’s work has always been “a combination of raw talent, compelling biography, and limited supply” (New York Times). Perhaps this is the formula that has attracted the checkbooks of the billionaire art-collecting class.
In conclusion, Basquiat’s words are powerful and insightful. They provide a unique perspective on art and life that is worth exploring. If you haven’t already, take the time to read his quotes and see what you think. And who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to create something beautiful yourself.
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