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From the streets of New York to the walls of its most prominent galleries, follow the short, prolific, and politicized career of Jean-Michel Basquiat, a cult figure of artistic social commentary. This introduction explores how the young trailblazer drew from inspirations as varied as Greek, Roman, and African art, along with French poetry and jazz, to create visceral images mixing word with bold color.
Hardcover8.3 x 10.2 in.1.35 lb96 pages



Brilliant Basquiat

The ’80s art star who put poverty, power, and racism on the wall

An icon of 1980s New York, Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–1988) first made his name under the graffiti tag “SAMO”, before establishing his studio practice and catapulting to fast fame at the age of 20. Although his career lasted barely a decade, he remains a cult figure of artistic social commentary, and a trailblazer in the mediation of graffiti and gallery art.

Basquiat’s work drew upon diverse sources and media to create an original and urgent artistic vocabulary, biting with critique against structures of power and racism. His practice merged abstraction and figuration, poetry and painting, while his influences spanned Greek, Roman, and African art, French poetry, jazz, and the work of artistic contemporaries such as Andy Warhol and Cy Twombly. The results are vivid, visceral mixtures of words, African emblems, cartoonish figures, daubs of bold color, and beyond.

This book presents Basquiat’s short but prolific career, his unique style, and his profound engagement with ever-relevant issues of integration and segregation, poverty and wealth.
The author

Leonhard Emmerling received his doctorate from the University of Heidelberg for a thesis titled “Jean Dubuffet’s Art Theory.” He is head of the South Asia regional program at the Goethe-Institute in New Delhi and was previously active as a curator at various art institutions in Germany. His publications include TASCHEN’s Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jackson Pollock.

Hardcover21 x 26 cm0.61 kg96 pages

ISBN 978-3-8365-5977-5

Edition: Spanish

ISBN 978-3-8365-5978-2

Edition: French

ISBN 978-3-8365-5979-9

Edition: English
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Born back in 1985, the Basic Art Series has evolved into the best-selling art book collection ever published. Each book in TASCHEN’s Basic Art series features:
• a detailed chronological summary of the life and oeuvre of the artist, covering his or her cultural and historical importance
• a concise biography
• approximately 100 illustrations with explanatory captions



9 Ratings

Affordable but exhaustive

Elia,October 28, 2021
This volume, like others in its series, has an accessible price but provides a good amount of information about the artist and his work. The print quality allows for a satisfactory fruition of the art it contains. Big value for money!

Must have

Michael,October 27, 2021
Un classique et une source d'inspiration constante


D.,October 27, 2021
Awesome book!!! Stream Lee well-made photos just pop right out of the book pregnancy and creative inspiration...

Beautiful Basquiat

Ryan,October 27, 2021
A dive into the incredibly interesting artwork of Jean-Michel, with intriguing descriptions and high-quality print, it's hard to put down


Moises,October 27, 2021
A must in my collection