As groundbreaking artists typically do, Jean-Michel Basquiat embodied an era. He became an unlikely superstar in a segregated art world at just 20 years old, exploding onto the New York scene in the early 1980s, his rise coinciding with the development of hip hop music and graffiti art culture. Although his career and life were both cut short, Basquiat’s distinct style and subject matter—raw, provoking Neo-Expressionist drawings and paintings, which fused words, symbols, and simplified figures—sent a shockwave through the city and beyond.

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