How Basquiat went from Underrated to Record-Breaking

by: Ellen C. Caldwell
for JSTOR Daily

Last month, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1982 painting Untitled broke records as the highest selling US-produced artwork, selling for $110.5 million at auction. Six years prior to this record-breaking sale, Laurie A. Rodrigues explored Basquiat’s work in her article “SAMO as an Escape Clause: Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Engagement with a Commodified American Africanism.”

Rodrigues explains that Basquiat’s early nom-de-plume “SAMO©” (the abbreviation for “same old shit”) was emblematic of some of the themes that would underlie his work for his short life: “the critiques presented by the SAMO graffiti speak to the artist’s alertness to high art’s disingenuousness and the racist, unfair practices of the American mainstream media.”

Basquiat entered the art scene in the late ‘70s by painting deceptively simple figurative forms, words, and symbols. His work was featured in a group show in 1980 and received critical acclaim in part for his distinctive style and his dramatic shift away from previous artistic styles driving previous artists…

Read the rest here at JSTOR Daily.

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