Editor’s note: This article was first published in the print edition of the Fall/Winter 2022-23 issue of Luxus+ magazine. Click here to view the full issue.
Once upon a time, there was a crazy and terrible story of friendship between the pope of pop art of the 80s and the child king of the underground. Between the street and the celebrity, there is sometimes only one step. But between brotherly love and hate, there can also be only a tiny step.
This is the story of a meeting between two artists-painters that everything opposes. One is a patron of the arts, a video artist, a painter and a music producer. The other is at the beginning a street artist. Before becoming, at the end of the XXth century, a true prodigy of painting, exhibited in all the art galleries of the Big Apple. Their culture, their environment, their childhood, their influences, their lifestyle, their ethnicity, everything distinguished them and made them, a priori, two incompatible personalities. And yet. As we often say, opposites attract. And it is indeed that which made the strength of their artistic and friendly union.
So what was the secret of this almost improbable affair? We will never know. Both knew they would become artists, but not how. Warhol took his destiny into his own hands, while Basquiat took his destiny into his own hands.
Both were born to immigrant parents and had fairly normal childhoods. Andy Warhol, whose real name was Andrew Warhola, was born in Pittsburgh (Pensylvania) in the 1920s to Slovakian parents. Jean-Michel Basquiat was born in Brooklyn in the 1960s to Haitian and Puerto Rican parents. Neither good nor bad at school, they both cultivated the same passion for art, drawing and painting. Feeling unappreciated during their youth, they found in a simple object, a companion that would follow them throughout their lives and until their death: the paintbrush.
“Daddy one day, I will be famous”.
Basquiat dreams of recognition and fame. Not knowing what to do with his life, he wanders the streets of New York, takes drugs, scribbles postcards and paints on T-shirts to make some money.
(After finishing school, Andy Warhol arrived in the Big Apple where he began to make a name for himself as a designer for fashion magazines such as Glamour and Vogue before setting up his first exhibition.
Warhol’s pragmatism is felt throughout his work. In 1962, at the age of 44, he exhibited his first works. At the time, Basquiat was only two years old and did not yet know that his future would be both as dark as the darkness and as bright as the splashes of color he would bring to his paintings. Every artist adopts an assumed name, an alias, a signature that becomes an identity in its own right for many of them. In his early days, Jean Michel Basquiat covered the walls of New York with an inscription: SAMO (for Same Old Shit). This became his signature.
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Featured photo : © Presse