In honour of Black History month, Community Relations are putting together tribute articles on a few artists. The image links may not work, give it some time and they will be activated.
What is Black History Month?
Black History Month is a month of remembrance for African Americans who influenced social conditions and lives of the people in history. Some of these African Americans are considered heroes for what they have done.
Before I give my tribute to the well known Jean-Michel Basquiat I would like to share with you all the ten National Heroes of Barbados. National Heroes day is celebrated here on April 28th.
Errol Walton Barrow "The first Prime Minister of Barbados who granted us our Independence, free education and a number of social improvements. "
Sir Grantley Herbert Adams "Known as Moses or the Messiah, he was a social reformer bent on achieving human rights for Barbadians, despite resistance by the exploitative plantocracy and merchant ruling classes."
Bussa - "He is considered to be the most fascinating freedom fighter in the annals of Barbados."
Sarah Ann Gill - "She contributed in the monumental role on the religious and social landscape of Barbados."
Charles Duncan O'neal - "He was part of the social transformation in Barbados. He was the first politician in Barbados to campaign for improved conditions for women in the workplace."
Clement Osbourne - "He tirelessly advocated the economic wants and political needs of working people in the West Indies following his slogan "Educate, agitate, but do not violate!"
Samuel Jackman Prescod - "He has been described by some as the "greatest Barbadians of all time" and the "saviour of his country"."
Sir. Garfield St.Auburn Sobers - One of the best cricketers in the world! He is known for hitting six sixes one after another in a cricket tournament.
Sir Hugh Worrell Springer - "He was a former educator, politician, leader of organised labour, parliamentarian, member of the Government and Head of State."
Sir Frank Leslie Walcott - "A tough, principled negotiator with a visionary approach to bargaining for improved conditions for the working population, he served the island's first trade union."
Taken from www.barbados.gov.bb/bdosnather…
References for the article and quotes were taken from Wikipedia Jean-Michel Basquiat and www.english.emory.edu/Bahri/Ba…
Jean-Michel Basquiat was born on December 22nd, 1960 in Brooklyn, New York. Basquiat's mother Matilde was from Puerto Rico and his father Gerard was from Haitian origin. The differences in his parent's nationalities influenced his language speaking skills such as "French, Spanish and English and he often read Symbolist poetry, mythology, history and medical texts, particularly Gray's Anatomy in those languages."
From an early age Basquiat developed an interest in art and his mother was a source of encouragement. At the age of "17, Basquiat and his friend Al Diaz started spray-painting graffiti art on slum buildings in lower Manhattan, adding the infamous signature of "SAMO" (i.e., "same old shit"). The graphics were pithy messages such as "Plush safe he think.. SAMO" and "SAMO as an escape clause".</a>"  Basquiat is well known for his graffiti art.
Image from www.offoffoff.com/film/2001/do…
Basquiat attended high school but later dropped out one year before his graduation and left home. He moved into the city to live with his friends and survived by selling postcards and T-Shirts on the streets. He lived among the junkies and street artists in New York's underground. 
In 1979 he gained celebrity status for appearing on cable shows. He also formed a ban with his friends called Gray in the 1970's. Some of his songs were used in a film Downtown 81's soundtracks where he worked.
Image from www.offoffoff.com/film/2001/do…
His recognition as an artist came in the 1980's when he participated in The Times Square Show. One of his pieces "The Radiant Child" was published in 1987 by Rene Ricard. This helped in the launching of his career to an international stage. He continued to exhibit in New York for a few years and among this time he exhibited with other street artists regularly in 1982. Basquiat along with some fellow artists became part of the Neo-Expressionists movement.
Basquiat dated a well known celebrity Madonna in 1982 and became friends with pop artist Andy Warhol during the same year, the two made a number of collaborative works. They also painted together, influencing each others' work.
Image from - www.artnet.com/artwork/4257059…
Image from - www.schulmanphotography.com/rs…
Basquiat died in 1988 at the early age of 27 (some sources say 28) from a drug overdose of mixing heroin and cocaine creating fatal results.
A film based on Basquiat's life was directed by Julian Schnabel in 1996, find the reviewe here. I've watched the video in my art history class, was quite interesting to watch, way better than what I had expected it to be. I suggest you do watch it when you can.
"Basquiat's art career is known for his three broad, though overlapping styles. In the earliest period, from 1980 to late 1982, Basquiat used painterly gestures on canvas, often depicting skeletal figures and mask-like faces that expressed his obsession with mortality. Other frequently depicted imagery such as automobiles, buildings, police, children's sidewalk games, and graffiti came from his experience painting on the city streets. A middle period from late 1982 to 1985 featured multipanel paintings and individual canvases with exposed stretcher bars, the surface dense with writing, collage and seemingly unrelated imagery.
These works reveal a strong interest in Basquiat's black identity and his identification with historical and contemporary black figures and events. On one occasion Basquiat painted his girlfriend's dress, with his words, a "Little Shit Brown". The final period, from about 1986 to Basquiat's death in 1988, displays a new type of figurative depiction, in a new style with different symbols and content from new sources. This period seems to have also had a profound impact on the styles of artists who admired Basquiat's work."  Directly quoted from - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Mic…
Images from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Mic…
"Basquiat and Postcoloniality
About Basquiat art critic Robert Farris Thompson writes, " What identifies Jean-Michel Basquiat as a major artist is courage and full powers of self-transformation. That courage, meaning not being afraid to fail, transforms paralyzingly self-conscious ' predicaments of culture ' into confident 'ecstasies of cultures recombined.' He had the guts, what is more, to confront New York art challenge number one: can you transform self and heritage into something new and named? (36)"
Very little criticism has been done examining the work produced by Jean-Michel Basquiat. While his place in the history of American art is still under dispute, it cannot be denied that during the eight years that he painted, his much of his work examines the legacy of the colonial enterprise and his relationship to that legacy. Whether recasting the work of European masters like Leonardo Davinci in his own terms or recounting events from Haitian, Puerto Rican, African and African American history, Basquiat presented a vision of a fragmented self in search of an organizing principle. Now, ten years after his death, critics can revisit his work apart from the taint of the market-driven art boom of the 1980s. Perhaps some of the tools developed in the field of postcolonial studies will help to unlock some of the mysteries contained in the work of this fascinating and complex artist. Three of his works that rather overtly examine isssues of colonialism and the position of the post-colonial subject are reproduced below." Directly quoted from - www.english.emory.edu/Bahri/Ba…</sub>
Images from www.english.emory.edu/Bahri/Ba…
Please excuse the break in the links
1.^ Basquiat at Houston's Museum of Fine Arts, ARTINFO, November 20, 2006, www.artinfo.com/news/story/156…, retrieved on 2008-04-21
2.^ Smith, Roberta (1982-03-23). "Jean-Michel Basquiat and the Contemporary Art Scene". The Village Voice. www.villagevoice.com/specials/…. Retrieved on 2008-02-05.
4.^ a b Hoban, Phoebe (2004). Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art. Penguin USA. ISBN 0143035126. http:/ /books.google.com/books?id=W7yF6cGfghoC& p g= PA299&lpg = PA299&dq = %22basquiat+a+quick+killing+in+art%22+bowes&source=web&ots=rLxSk7AE9w&sig=9S5OKQn6RzDGUNmRUGcBVhojIjs.
5. www.english.emory.edu/Bahri/Ba… (Sirmans, M. Franklin. "Chronology." Jean-Michel Basquiat. Ed. Richard Marshall. New York: Whitney/Abrams, 1992. 233-250.)