Jean-Michel Basquiat became an idol of modern art. His transition from the subways to the chic gallery spaces of Manhattan brought him into the company of many of New York’s established and aspiring stars. He became friends with fellow artists Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, performed with Debbie Harry and Fab 5 Freddie and dated Madonna.
But through all of this he had a relationship with Suzanne. Mmuse, lover, co-conspirator, fellow artist.
But the demands that his new fame brought, coupled with the racism and injustice all around him, sickened Basquiat. He started using heroin far too often and in 1987, at the age of twenty-seven, the most successful black visual artist in history, died from a heroin overdose.
This book, written by a friend of both Basquiat and Suzanne, is an exploration of the artist and the time they lived through as seen through the eyes of his muse, Suzanne. Though they parted before he died, it is a love story still.
I was a teenager if the 80’s. I loved Basquiat’s work then and still love it now. It has an energy and an intelligence not found in much pop art. That energy is born of fury and injustice and the intelligence brings with it humour.
It was an honour to read such an intimate, understanding and compassionate portrait of the artist. But it also made me feel ashamed of the racism that still destroys so many people’s potential. We must do better. Art demands it.
NB I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest review. The BookEaters always write honest reviews.