BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Seven days of Black Heroes – Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat, photo: Wikipedia

As we head into the last week of Black History Month, DNO will feature one of our global Black Heroes from various fields every day for the next seven days, which, hopefully, is educational and evokes pride and inspiration. Enjoy the first installment on iconic art prodigy Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, born in 1960 in Brooklyn, New York, was a trailblazing artist whose work continues to captivate audiences around the world. Born to a Puerto Rican mother and a Haitian father, Basquiat’s multicultural upbringing deeply influenced his artistry. Jean-Michel was reportedly highly intelligent, reading and writing at the age of four. He often frequented museums and exhibitions with his mother who wanted to instill a love of art in her son at a tender age. At age seven, he produced his first creative endeavour–a children’s book, which his friend illustrated.

Later, he would attend City-As-School, an alternative institution where creative children took refuge from an educational system they found to be challenging. He received encouragement from his teachers based on his talent and despite lacking formal training, he immersed himself in the world of art, teaching himself the techniques that would later define his distinctive style.

Basquiat first gained recognition as part of the graffiti duo SAMO, which left its mark on the streets of New York City with its enigmatic messages and striking imagery. His early works were a fusion of words, stick figures, and animals, reflecting his raw talent and innate creativity. As an artist, he highlighted contrast, both mediumistic and conceptual.

Despite initial struggles, Basquiat’s breakthrough came when he sold a painting for $50,000, signaling the beginning of his meteoric rise in the art world. A notable achievement was becoming the youngest artist ever to showcase about 60 pieces of work at the Kestner-Gesellschaft gallery in Hanover Germany.

Tragically, Basquiat’s life was cut short when he passed away in 1988 at the age of 27. However, his legacy endures, with his artworks fetching record-breaking prices, including one that sold for $110.5 million posthumously, making him the highest-priced American artist in history.

Basquiat’s impact as an artist transcends his brief time on Earth, as he continues to inspire future generations with his profound artistic vision and instantly recognizable persona.

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  1. If we knew better
    February 22, 2024

    For those who aren’t familiar with Jean-Michel Basquiat, this link below is a short movie about his life. It features a few big named stars like David Bowie who played Andy Warhal, Benicio Del Toro and a few others. I’ve always loved this movie. I hope others do too.

  2. Let's Face It
    February 21, 2024

    Wow, inspiring story on Jean-Michel Basquiat. That’s why I visit your site. Thanks for the stories DNO.

  3. Island Boy
    February 21, 2024

    DNO, Black History Month has nothing to do with Dominica.

    According to, “Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history.”

    The month was created by black Americans since they think their role in US history is not being recognized enough.

    Why do we always have to follow what the Americans do? SMH.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 6
    • Long-term Results
      February 21, 2024

      I think I hear crickets, you are alone in this one there pal. You are all Africans.

    • Roger Burnett
      February 25, 2024

      Island Boy, I beg to differ.

      These inspirational accounts have everything to do with Dominicans of African descent.

  4. Ti NOM
    February 21, 2024

    8-O aren’t their enough Dominican heroes for black history month?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6
    • Matt
      February 21, 2024

      Ya, but we not going to be pigeonholed by someone else’s division and separation tactics.

  5. Roger Burnett
    February 21, 2024

    The brilliant life and sad death of Jean-Michel Basquiat speaks volumes about two problems that youth face in Dominica. First: the neglect of our education system for those talented in the creative arts, and second: the destructive effect of drugs.

    If fostered, creativity in itself can provide the high that many young people seek.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

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