If you were anywhere, or anyone, in New York during the eighties, you knew who Basquiat was. He was this kid who was everywhere, he was omnipresent in a way. You also knew who Keith Haring, de Kooning and Andy Warhol were. You could not not know of them, they were everywhere. Their collective works told the New York story and spoke to such topics as pop culture, injustice, poverty, society and class struggle.
Jean-Michel Basquiat was coined ‘The Radiant Child’ by Artforum magazine in ’81. He was the brilliant street artist, the Neo-expressionist who mixed poetry, drawing, and painting to explore cultural dichotomies, the Primitivist who used caricatures to explain the highly complex struggles of the day. He perished of a heroin overdose at the tender age of 27, but he left a legacy in his wake.
Andy Warhol mentored Basquiat and they collaborated together. Basquiat achieved critical acclaim and commercial success in his day after years of struggle (his mother was institutionalized and Basquiat lived on the streets for some time). He rose to fame with his graffiti art, his work was then featured in a group show. His work is very important in the art world and is worth inordinate sums, but he also paved the way for other Neo-expressionists such as Julian Schnabel (who later created a film about Basquiat) and Susan Rothenberg.
Attribution to Wikipedia, Julian Schnabel, Wikipaintings, Basquiat.com, Huffington Post, Rubbell Family Collection