Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art

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9780670854776: Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art
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The tragic story of the talented painter Jean-Michel Basquiat details his turbulent childhood, explosive dealings with the elite art world, relationships with such figures as Andy Warhol and Madonna, and rise to fame, which led to his death from a drug overdose at the age of twenty-seven. 12,000 first printing.

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Review:

This minutely reported book is as much a portrait of the frenzied, prodigal New York art world of the 1980s as it is a biography of Jean-Michel Basquiat, who died of a drug overdose at age 27 in 1988. Basquiat, one of very few African American artists to acquire an international reputation, left a thick web of dealers, collectors, friends, lovers, paintings, drawings, and used syringes behind him. Author Phoebe Hoban seems to have unblinkingly interviewed or examined them all. While she duly registers Basquiat's sad childhood, with his unstable Puerto Rican mother and punishing Haitian father, she doesn't make much of the deeper veins of sorrow and self-destruction that may have motivated the artist and informed his art. Rather, she allows his celebrity, which whisked him from street urchin to art star, to be the central trajectory of this story. The Warhol protégé would probably approve, as he was the primary obliterator of his own psychological depths, throwing away his short, phenomenally productive life in the edgy club and drug scene of downtown Manhattan. The miracle is that Basquiat was so good, and so serious, an artist, surrounded as he was by hype and cash. Hoban's book is a fluid, intricate, authoritative dissection of a time, a place, and--almost--a person. --Peggy Moorman

About the Author:

Phoebe Hoban has written about culture and the arts for Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ, Harper's Bazaar, and the New York Times. She has written regularly for both New York magazine and the New York Times. She lives in New York City.

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