We travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the secret tonic to creativity.
When we get home, home is still the same, but something in our minds has changed, and that changes everything.
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s dramatic life and iconic paintings—which variously feature obsessive scribbling, enigmatic symbols and diagrams, and iconography including skulls, masks, and the artist’s trademark crown—make him one of the most famous artists of the 20th century. The self-taught painter embraced graffiti before committing to a studio practice. He found a mentor and friend in Andy Warhol, who helped the young artist navigate the 1980s New York art world. Across his oeuvre, Basquiat drew on his own Caribbean heritage; a convergence of African American, African, and Aztec cultural histories; classical themes; and pop cultural figures including athletes and musicians. The immediacy and intellectual depth of his paintings won him widespread acclaim both before and after his untimely death at the age of 27. Basquiat’s paintings now belong in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others. In 2017, Basquiat’s Untitled (1982) notched $110.5 million at auction and became the most expensive artwork by an American artist to ever be sold.