The chaotic brilliance of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat – Jordana Moore Saggese

The chaotic brilliance of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat – Jordana Moore Saggese

A sky blue canvas ripped open
by an enormous skull. Teeth bared through visceral slashes
of oil and spray-paint. In 2017, this untitled artwork was auctioned
off for over 110 million dollars. But it’s not the work of some old master. These strokes of genius belong to 21 year old
black Brooklynite Jean-Michel Basquiat – one of America’s most
charismatic painters, and currently, its highest sold. Born in 1960 to a Haitian father
and a Puerto Rican mother, Basquiat spent his childhood making art
and mischief in Boerum Hill. While he never attended art school, he learned by wandering
through New York galleries, and listening to the music
his father played at home. He drew inspiration from
unexpected places, scribbling his own versions of cartoons,
comic books and biblical scenes on scrap paper from his father’s office. But it was a medical encyclopedia
that arguably exerted the most powerful
influence on Basquiat. When young Jean-Michael was hit by a car, his mother brought a copy of
“Grey’s Anatomy” to his hospital bed. It ignited a lifelong fascination
with anatomy that manifested in the skulls,
sinew and guts of his later work – which frequently explores both the power
and vulnerability of marginalized bodies. By 17, he launched his first foray into
the art world with his friend Al Diaz. They spray painted cryptic statements
and symbols all over Lower Manhattan, signed with the mysterious moniker SAMO. These humorous, profound,
and rebellious declarations were strategically scattered
throughout Soho’s art scene. And after revealing himself as the artist, Basquiat leveraged SAMO’s success
to enter the scene himself; selling postcards, playing clubs with
his avant-garde band, and boldly seeking out his heroes. By 21, he’d turned to painting full time. His process was a sort of
calculated improvisation. Like Beat writers who composed their work by shredding
and reassembling scraps of writing, Basquiat used similar cut-up techniques
to remix his materials. When he couldn’t afford canvases, he fashioned them out of discarded
wood he found on the street. He used oil stick, crayons,
spray paint and pencil and pulled quotes from the menus,
comic books and textbooks he kept open on the studio floor. He kept these sources open
on his studio floor, often working on multiple
projects at once. Pulling in splintered anatomy,
reimagined historical scenes, and skulls transplanted from
classical still-lives, Basquiat repurposed both present day
experiences and art history into an inventive visual language. He worked as if inserting himself into
the legacy of artists he borrowed from, producing collages that were just as
much in conversation with art history as they were with each other. For instance,
“Toussaint L’Overture versus Savonarola” and “Undiscovered Genius of the
Mississippi Delta” offer two distinct visions of Basquiat’s
historical and contemporary concerns. But they echo each other in the details, such as the reappearing head that
also resurfaces in “PPCD.” All these pieces form a network
that offers physical evidence of Basquiat’s restless and prolific mind. These chaotic canvases won
rapid acclaim and attention. But despite his increasingly
mainstream audience, Basquiat insisted on depicting
challenging themes of identity and oppression. Marginalized figures take center stage,
such as prisoners, cooks and janitors. His obsession with bodies, history,
and representation can be found in works evoking the
Atlantic slave trade and African history, as well as pieces focusing on
contemporary race relations. In less than a decade, Basquiat made thousands of
paintings and drawings- along with sculpture, fragments
of poetry and music. His output accelerated alongside
his meteoric rise to fame, but his life and work were
cut tragically short when he died from a drug overdose
at the age of 27. After his death,
Basquiat’s work only increased in value- but the energy and flair of his pieces have impacted much more than their
financial worth. Today, his influence swirls around us in
music, poetry, fashion and film- and his art retains the power to
shock, inspire, and get under our skin.

Dereck Turner

100 thoughts on “The chaotic brilliance of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat – Jordana Moore Saggese

  1. mia raja says:


  2. Parker812 says:

    Can you make a video about what happens to your body when you get tetanus, polio, or leprosy. I really enjoy your videos and love learning about new things.

  3. Victoria Pires says:

    To be honest i don't get it, it's not about the skill or anything like that, it's just that most of his work isn't very memorable, there are some exceptions here and there but it just doesn't move me at all. People are just enamored with what he signifies, he's more memorable than any of his works

  4. victor noagbodji says:

    a true artist!

  5. Justine says:

    this—the video and the artist—is brilliance. i’m going to go check him out now

  6. Selly Sagita Suseno says:

    He is BTS V / Kim Taehyung's favorite artist


    Hey! I had a question
    How can we locate 'pie' on a number line ?

  8. MR. LEARNER says:

    I love Ted ed

  9. Aztec Yogi MIchelle Castro says:

    Basquiat!! Breathtaking, visceral, raw, beauty. One of his pieces is at the Broad here in LA and I remember just being mesmerized by it, my heart skipped a beat and eyes filled with tears to be standing infront of a piece he created . 💕🌱💕

  10. Bruce Lin says:

    You guys should make a video on Nicolas Winton

  11. luciddreams says:

    Modern Art has an emperor's new clothes feel to me. The best artists I know are in entertainment and advertising. The level of skill the average concept artists and animators need is usually higher than the most famous modern artists these days. Basquiat was a fascinating creative but he wasn't a talented artist. How is art one of the few artistic fields where base level skill isn't a requirement?

  12. Penny Dls says:

    Ugh thank you for featuring my favourite artist ❤

  13. nana yaw berko says:

    This guy was on drugs on drugs on drugs

  14. TC IronBear says:

    I can't help but feel that when it comes to modern art it is not the art that is being sold, but the story behind the art that is being sold. It is kind of like how pepper merchants use to say that pepper was guarded by monsters to help their customers stomach the price or when you find yourself bargaining with a seller he will wax poetic about the effort, sentimentality, or rarity of the product in order to get you to part with more cash. A "story" was added to the product in order to increase the value.

    And look Basquiat's life. It seems to fit a lot of the tropes about a modern artist. Child of unprivileged. Check. Child of artists. Check. Life changing event. Check. Untrained genius. Check. Gritty street artist. Check. Championed something oppressed. Check. Died tragically at the high of his career. Check. Makes art that is a great conversation piece at party. Check.

    And when I dissect the story and it target market, I can't help but be a little depressed. This art that ultimately affirms the purchaser's superiority while giving them a pass to feel good about their superiority. In the story Basquiat's talent is the result of biology and having high brow interests. That speaks to many rich people of unearned wealth. But at the same time this reflection of themselves has an upbringing that denies him the privilege.

    It is kind of like how action movies are ultimately power fantasies given plot to justify violence without guilt. Basquiat's art is ultimately a salve for the guilt that goes with being ultra rich.

  15. Corey Messick says:

    Meanwhile I can’t make one red cent GRACIOUSLY sharing my fiction on my channel like a free audiobook 😒

  16. Louizzza says:

    Youtube giving me "rEcOmMeNdAtIoNs" again.

  17. Zixin Dontworry says:

    i found it a crime when i realized how much i could learn within 10 minutes. i 've just wasted about 4 hours today watching some silly gameplay walkthrough.

  18. Dana Romero says:

    I didn't know who he was until Taehyung talked about how he really liked his work, I like to discover knew things like this

  19. Seth Snipes says:

    How was he 22 years old

  20. Seth Snipes says:

    If he was born in 1960 how could he be 21 in 2017

  21. Rocha Leandro says:

    So he did have a modicum of classical knowledge in anatomy and art history. Nothing rarely can come from nothing. Effort and interest in multiple sources didn't diminish his creativity, rather increasing it.

  22. who is on mars says:

    I love Basquiat and this video was beautifully made and the narrators voice is so comforting

  23. Fallon Fontaine says:

    My favorite artist of all time!

  24. Nasir James says:

    damn. i was really starting to feel something positive towards this guy before 3:55. i have no sympathy for crackheads.

  25. Dan Meyerson says:

    This video is a great work of art

  26. E-ph3MME says:

    Ésta hermoso

  27. Anna Patricia Bautista says:


  28. Nicholas Fanzo says:

    Brilliant indeed

  29. Cory Obrien says:

    She isnt sayin it right, its pronounced "baskay"…

  30. Ataide Rodrigues Tiago Filho says:

    I had the opportunity, from an exposition of Basquiat here in Brazil. Incredible … Magnificent …

  31. kaguth says:

    I did an animation out of one of Basquiat's painting on my chnl.

  32. Mateus Oliveira says:

    True fame only comes from Death, as He and the Gods understands that fame only makes people lazy. As this simple artist, local famous, he were able to actually make a difference on this world. When he died, the energy was released.

  33. redefine ART says:

    Great piece, loved every bits of it!

  34. Tadeo Hill says:


  35. lillegumee says:


  36. ARSNZMA X says:

    21 ? … or did they mean he made that first piece at 21

  37. Alex Anderson says:

    Jean Michel was a great artist but he was also a smack head and alot of his art containing random words written over and over are a snap shot of his mental health

  38. Natalie Peters says:

    who illustrated this video? the work is beautiful I would love to see more.

  39. JennFlProfile Updated says:

    HeDiedAt27ByDrug overdoes ?!

  40. Jasen Cordiero says:


  41. SoundzX3 says:


  42. Kamil Vohradský says:


  43. 4 & 20 Black Birds says:

    ya. I love his stuff when i was working at canal jeans as a display designer in SOHO in the late 80s.

  44. Lanier Wen says:


  45. Kombo Chapfika says:

    Let's just ignore all the heroine.

  46. Jurassica says:

    i always was so fascinated by the ny apartment in the movie Across The Universe and now I understand that it was inspired by basquiat

  47. Lakota Lucas says:

    Does anyone know the music?

  48. Thomas Rainbow says:

    This video is so well done! Bravo! He first meets Andy Warhol at 1:47 and he buys some of his postcard art. I highly recommend watching the documentary The Radiant Child if you're further interested in Basquiat.

  49. Jonathan McCue says:

    Every time I see a video about basquiat I just have too watch, great quick summary of his life, hope it inspires some viewers to go search him up.

  50. Ivy Girl says:

    I love how creepy his art looks😻💀🎨

  51. MegaAppl3 says:

    Beautiful. Love Basquait

  52. Zoe Preme says:

    I wish more people knew he was haitian. They need to start it off with that

  53. Angelo Dela Cruz says:

    i made my project for exam with him.. so proud

  54. cassidy says:

    i just got this in my recommended, and i’m going to the exhibit tomorrow lol

  55. Brian Preciado says:

    He changed the art world. Thank you my idol 🙏

  56. xPixelPenguinx says:

    I just recently did a school assignment on him, he’s an inspiration and what sparked my now love for art.

  57. Hoe-Sway says:

    Who bought that painting El Chappo

  58. Carlos Derr says:

    Love Jean Michel!! Genius!

  59. Chosen_2nd says:

    He’s without a doubt my artist!

  60. Brianna Williams says:

    i clicked on this just so i could learn how to finally pronounce basquiat

  61. Pat W says:

    hes gonna be an influence on my art. love the man. if only drugs didnt take him away. RIP

  62. Ariani Anwar says:

    Who made this motion also chaotic brilliance

  63. Vinay Seth says:

    '27 Club'!

  64. Perplexion Dangerman says:

    cool dude, rags to …….27

  65. Jotaro Kujo says:


  66. ha na says:

    Well this animation is art 👌

  67. Lotus Flower says:

    Why is that gorgeous man gone at age 27!!!!?

  68. Mike Karatas says:

  69. ThatWeirdThingInTheCorner says:

    Anyone know this music in this vid?

  70. Lou Majors says:

    Spirit of Basquiat lives on! More ART! @t

  71. Tommy Generico says:

    This man made art for the lowly people of the world and now his pieces are hung up on the halls of some billionaire smh

  72. Rodgie Christian Cruz says:

    Anything can be art and anyone can be a profound artist if researched deep enough. scratch that. drugs and death.

  73. Paul Andrei Gillesania says:

    My dear Basquiat saved modern art from the ghastly oblivion, by steering it away on a new branch, remote from the corporate, the snobbish, the greedy.

  74. ScrapArt says:

    He happens to be I one of millions of the same story. why is he glorified
    Sooooooo much. I like him .we grew up in the same hood went to to same museum. I was born dec 21 1961. Lived in Brooklyn off Flatbush ave. Walked the same streets .. Some call him a bum a junkie a genius. This art is everywhere done by others .it's not the first invention of with words..
    Or maybe it was an exploitation experiment. I truly wonder..

  75. PYRETTE SHESHE says:


  76. lillie c says:

    By far the most insightful and dreamlike person I have ever read about. I would give anything to sit down with him and have a conversation. Maybe in the next life.

  77. TheOddBeauty says:

    Frida Kahlo and Jean-Michel Basquiat are my top artistic inspirations for sure

  78. W. RSF says:

    Overhyped bad taste

  79. JcsBee ʕ•ع•ʔ says:

    So last week I went on a thrift shop tolook for cargo pants and idk if It was a coincidence that I happend to pick a sweater or sweatshirt sort of.. so i looked at it and felt like I was captured by the drawing imprinted on the shirt like it was something mysterious that a lot of thoughts suddenly popped out my mind so I decided to buy it and did a research on it .. it turns out it's one of the artworks owned by jean-michel basquiat..

  80. Gyxo says:

    creative genius

  81. MyBackHurts says:

    One thing that bothers me is a lot of people praise Basquiat (as they should) yet are fearful of people of his background

  82. FR Bmp says:

    It's expensive cause expert says it is.

  83. David says:

    1:47 love the detail of how he sold his postcard to Andy Warhol, even though it was not mentioned

  84. chris thomas says:

    What a beautiful mind

  85. Laurence Kim says:

    He is like the ODB of pop art.

  86. Josue166 says:

    Merci Jean-Michel Basquiat

  87. RGDJ Gómez says:

    Inspiration from unexpected places : Thats the recipe for "originality/genius". Cool Video.

  88. Daniela Katzenbecher says:

    Findet ihr mich jetzt hübsch oder was

  89. Jules Nisbett says:

    Why do you describe his process as "chaotic" ?

  90. Rene Trujillo says:

    Raw power!

  91. Jacob Bryan says:

    I simply dont like this type of art, but i respect his struggle to contribute art itself.

  92. Jerra Maurice says:

    Basquiat was a legendary genius. He had a special talent to make pretty pictures as if they told a story he totally caught the essence of his art. I really enjoy his style not just as an artist but being himself which he wasn’t ashamed of. His legacy will live on forever

  93. ᴋɴᴡᴇʟʟᴇ says:


  94. I support multiple fandoms stop the hate says:

    Pretty sure that the animations in the Map of the Soul : Shadow by bts are a reference to basqueat's use of crowns

  95. fruitoson says:

    i had such an intense fascination with him in my early teens. consumed every piece of media possible on him and was kind of obsessive. still love

  96. Lucipherous de Illuminati says:

    1 among thousands at that time.
    He was not original at all. His style is a complete rip off from other lesser known artists.
    He just got the break.

  97. Lou Hawk says:

    Ther are 10million basquiats on earth what makes this one sooo special and

  98. Jarrett Smith says:

    he is cool

  99. Mehrdad Mohajer says:

    Hi guys : not too many people achieve what he got by age 27. rip😘. but we need to have retrospective of him, made accessible to everyone. Art & Culture for every mankind. to store a piece of Work just for yourself does not mean as much as share it together to remember the Artist & appreciate his dedication for us to have a rich life under Sky full of STARS🍻

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