Jean-Michel Basquiat was born in New York on February 22, 1960. His father was from Haiti, his mother from Puerto Rico. In 1978 Jean-Michel Basquiat, along with his friend Al Diaz, begins his artistic career as a graffiti sprayer in the streets of New York-- he signed all of his graffiti works "SAMO", which stands for "Same old shit". He earned a living by selling painted postcards and T-shirts, and making assemblages from scrap metal. He soon attracted the attention of the New York art scene, and went on to inspire both Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf, other prominent graffiti artists in the late twentieth century.
Jean-Michel Basquiat's very authentic painting style, applied to paper and canvas, made him a star almost overnight. 

In 1980, Jean-Michel Basquiat was part of the "Times Square Show", earning him a lot of attention. In 1981, the art critic René Ricard published the article "The Radiant Child" in the magazine "Artforum", which cemented his breakthhrough as an artist, along with his participation in the exhibition "New York / New Wave" in the P.S.1. 

At the age of 21, Jean-Michel Basquiat was the youngest artist ever invited to the renowned documenta exhibition in Kassel. Exhibitions in Europe, Japan, and the United States followed, and earned him world-wide acknowledgement, and respect from critics, collectors and other artists. In 1984, Jean-Michel Basquiat became acquainted with Francesco Clemente and Andy Warhol, with whom he proceeded to work until Warhol's death in 1987. Basquiat famously mourned Warhol, and his depression about mortality become the focal point of his late paintings. The artist Julian Schnabel went on to portray the artist in the film "Basquiat", in 1996.