A high school dropout, Basquiat found his true calling hanging out in the streets and inserting himself in the bustling urban milieu, ultimately becoming an influential figure in New York City’s Downtown, especially the East Village club scene. He was a regular among a group of filmmakers, artists, and musicians who made the Mudd Club, Club 57, and CBGB their stomping ground. Basquiat achieved his breakthrough in the early 1980s, developing a unique vocabulary characterized by repetitive images, human heads with open mouths as if in speech, a variety of marks, and xeroxed collage. In his paintings, the patches of intense color, created with acrylic, oil stick, and graphite, keyed into the excitement of New York’s subculture.
In his youth, Jean-Michel Basquiat dreamed of becoming famous, and to escape to the edge of the world, at least to Hawaii. He always wanted to open a tequila factory, play jazz in local pubs and enjoy his life. But instead, the artist was feverishly creating: it seemed that death was everywhere, and it was necessary to have time to splash out on the canvases everything that was rushing out before the abyss overtook him.

Jean-Michel created hundreds of works that art collectors still admire. Today, prices for Basquiat paintings are soaring higher, and the most famous museums and galleries are fighting to exhibit them in their halls.
The end of 1960 was both tragic and happy for the Basquiat family: their firstborn Max died shortly before the birth of his second son Jean-Michel. The latter was destined to become a star of modern art, but in the 1960s he was an ordinary boy who grew up in Brooklyn in an international family of a Puerto Rican mother and a Haitian father. Soon after Jean-Michel, two girls were born in the family.

The future painter was a precocious child: at the age of three he began to draw, saying that he wanted to be an artist, by four he could read and write, and by eleven he was fluent in three languages: English, Spanish and French. The boy adored books, Hitchcock films and comics, which inspired him to make his own sketches. At that time, Jean-Michel dreamed of becoming a cartoonist.

In 1968, when Jean-Michel had an accident, his parents divorced. A couple of years later, the artist's mother was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for the first time, where she has been treated periodically since then. From that moment on, the children of the Basquiat family were raised by their father.

Jean earned his living by selling hoodies and postcards with his own drawings, working at the Unique Clothing Warehouse in the bohemian Noho district, and sometimes even begging. At night, Basquiat, along with his school friend Al Diaz, painted the walls of Lower Manhattan with ironic inscriptions under the pseudonym SAMO. This fictional image became the first step of Jean-Michel to the popularity that he craved in his youth.

The idea of SAMO came to Basquiat almost by accident: while still in high school, Jean-Michel, Al Diaz and several other City-as-School students created the school newspaper Basement Blues Press. For one of its issues, the future artist wrote an article about a fictional religion, which he called SAMO (from the phrase "the same old shit").

A few days later, Basquiat and Diaz were already obsessed with their idea and released leaflets with fictional confessions of people whose lives were allegedly changed by a new "religion". By 1978, witty inscriptions on behalf of SAMO began to appear all over Lower Manhattan and became increasingly popular. However, while New Yorkers did not know who was behind the mysterious graffiti.
Basquiat and Diaz maintained their anonymity for several months, until the Village Voice magazine paid their friends $ 100 to print their story — though without specifying their surnames. Shortly after its publication, Jean-Michel appeared on television and said that he was the mysterious graffiti artist, without mentioning Al Diaz in a word. The latter was so offended by his friend that after the show was released, they did not communicate for another two years. At this time, Basquiat announced the completion of the project to New York, leaving many inscriptions on the walls of SAMO IS DEAD.

At a time when the whole of New York was wondering who was behind the pseudonym SAMO, Jean-Michel Basquiat was tirelessly creating. Living with one or another girl, he turned each apartment into a work of expressionist art, painted clothes that the young man's friends then exhibited in their showrooms, and, of course, made postcards. He managed to sell one of them to his idol and future friend, the artist Andy Warhol.

Jean-Michel was catastrophically poor, and he had no money for painting materials — so even what seemed to others to be ordinary garbage could become a source for his works.