My Basquiat Collection

basquiat_resume_01A comical resume written by Jean-Michel Basquiat for his first art show sold for $50,000 at Sotheby’s. Created when the artist was 20 (right before his star ascended) this CV was composed on the crucial cusp between his graffiti writing (Samo) and his neo-expressionist paintings that exploded on the downtown scene.

Interesting that Patricia Fields is his primary reference. Perhaps she took a liking to the t-shirts he’d been hand-painting for that downtown discount store, Canal Jeans? Glenn O’Brien is no surprise at #2, as he wrote the first big magazine article on Jean-Michel and Fab Five Freddy in High Times magazine.

Basquiat“It’s all drugs,” said Duncan Hannah about Basquiat (photographed here smoking a joint by William Coupon). I didn’t know how to respond to that statement.  Does it make a difference what sacraments or ceremonies an artist employs to aid his creation process? Jean-Michel was a wildly talented artist who arrived on the scene initially as a 2nd-wave graffiti artist, but quickly adapted to the changes taking place in the art scene, changes O’Brien certainly could have hipped him to. Minimalism had run into a dead end, and now the largely abstract artists of New York City were trying to negotiate a path back to imagery. Any imagery. Basquiat turned to his inner child and drew on TV cartoons as a primary source for some of those early drawings. Just the fact he executed these drawings by holding an oil stick like a 3-year-old showed his genius.

Basquiat did clean up momentarily for his final exhibition in 1988 and the paintings didn’t look much like his earlier work. The confidence was gone and the paintings seemed shrunken and under assault. He was obviously not in a great frame of mind and soon would seek solace in the comfort of hard drugs after that last show was savaged by the critics. This was following the debacle of his Andy Warhol collaborations, which were also savaged and initially failed to sell. Today, however, a great Basquiat painting is worth over $100 million, as one recently fetched $110.5 million. I knew Basquiat when you could get artwork from him for under $1,000 and nobody was buying. That was around the Times Square Show, shortly before Diego Cortez launched him in New York/New Wave one year later.

FirstsamostoryI do have some Basquiat materials I collected while researching my book Art After Midnight, which was the first bio on Basquiat, Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf. One of my favorite pieces is this school newspaper story that he published with an illustration to accompany it. This is Basquiat’s first published anything and it’s also the origins of the Samo idea. I also have a copy of his first professional illustration in the Soho News, autographed in red marker with “Samo” as he had not yet morphed into his new identity as a neo-expressionist painter. Both these items were obtained from Al Diaz and were selected for the Boom For Real exhibition in London. Since then, I traded both back to Al. I also have an illuminating 30 minute interview that is briefly interrupted by Andy Warhol before he decides he has already revealed too much and ends the session. This tape has never been played anywhere, except once for Phoebe Hoban when she was working on Jean’s biography.

If you want a peek into the scene Basquiat actually was a part of, something written while it was all happening, then check out my book Art After Midnight, which contains more exclusive images like the first Samo story. You’ll find it on Amazon, iTunes and Smashwords.


Author: Steven Hager

I'm a writer, journalist, filmmaker and event producer.

7 thoughts on “My Basquiat Collection”

  1. Mr Hager! Am thoroughly enjoying your work here. I’m a second-generation hippie (kid during the ’60s) with more of a Lennonesque sneer, to my hippieness, than a Garcia-ish smile… but I definitely know where you’re coming from and also, likewise, abhor the orchestrated ultra-violence-training saturating the culture… I miss the days when musicians didn’t need to be weight-lifting crypto-rapists to get airplay. I have a soft spot for William Klein, Joni Mitchell, Richard Brautigan…

    Plus: the non-disinfo sites out there are dwindling, so it was nice to stumble upon yours.

    One question (in the form of a statement): I’ve read very compelling (lucidly-presented, fact-rich, rationally-argued) material about the NAZA hoax; I have a fairly solid education in the sciences and I’d say, after reading the best material on the subject, that the technology for landing and retrieving humans (alive) from even the nearest heavenly body isn’t here now and could not have been around *then*. Even a good look at NAZA’s own photographs of the “lunar module” makes it seem laughable that such a flimsy, unshielded, jerry-rigged contraption of gaffer’s tape, foil and tar paper could have housed an adequate propulsion/ life-support system while also (at some point) housing two suited astronauts and a “moon buggy”. The cameras are impossible (re: temp, ambient radiation, chest-mounted accuracy), the “slow motion” effect is illogical (lower gravity wouldn’t explain that obvious artistic decision), and why hasn’t any modern industrialized nation (let alone America), considering today’s technology dwarfing the tech of 1969, been “back” to the moon since? Such a “return” would confer enormous geopolitical prestige on China, Japan, Germany, Great Britain or… yeah… the USA… not to mention the possible industrial/military benefits. The moon is c. quarter of a million miles distant, on average, whereas the highest we’ve gone since then is 400 miles. And yes, I believe that we really did the space shuttles and the ISS… which are orders of magnitude less tricky than what Apollo supposedly achieved.

    I’m just curious as to why you think that line of thinking is disinfo?

    Meanwhile: thank you very much for your work!

    1. I believe we did go to the moon, but I’m not a scientist and my opinion is not that valuable. A huge part of disinfo is spreading fake stories, and I always put the moon debunkers in that category. Maybe if you check which colleges have moon rocks you could find some professor that would know how to test those rocks on whether they came from earth or the moon? I have to say, I like your attitude though, and hope more “second generation hippies” show up and start turning against the violence programming. That being said, I’m sure NASA is run by secret societies and build initially by Nazi’s like Werner Von Braun. I suspect many major players are Freemasons, not that all Freemasons are evil, far from it, just that they used to hold a huge chunk of power in the 1950s, far more so than today. The thing about secret societies is they work, just ask the Sicilian men of honor.

      1. Secret societies do indeed work; secrecy plus generational longevity is a pretty unbeatable combination!

        Re: moon rocks: remember the Dutch “moon rock”, recently, that turned out to be a petrified chunk of wood? Also, you know, there are “moon rocks” on Earth, from the moon itself, that arrived via meteorite collision. Apparently, the North pole is rich in such moon rocks, which dovetails neatly with the Polar expeditions Von Braun headed…! Laugh

        I’m not only a second-gen Hippie but I’m a musician as well, btw… that’s a big part of my interest in maintaining some Cultural Humanity despite the best efforts of Institutional Psychopathy….

        1. PS I was extremely disappointed when it dawned on me that Mae Brussell was not quite who she first appeared to be, but then I’ve noticed that it’s the disinfo agents who’ll tend to have astonishing success in predicting catastrophes (a la AJ predicting the shindig that they threw in the fall of the year that was the dawn of this century). Obviously, they’re fed material that helps them gain credibility quickly. Oh, and then there’s Antony Sutton, who struck me as credible until I caught a video of him on the atrocious Elizabeth Clare Prophet’s show, claiming something absolutely preposterous with the hint of a smirk aimed at ECP: pure contempt for Duh Masses. Batting for the other team or merely reduced to cynical hucksterism? Hard to tell.

          Any thoughts on Sherman Skolnick?

          1. Of course the fake whistle blowers will provide real info initially to establish bona fides and then mostly just seed rabbit holes from there. And the real whistleblowers will be fed fake info in the same manner, first some real bits and then a bunch of nonsense. Mae was certainly not trustworthy and neither is Alex Constantine who took up her research. Antony Sutton I have never seen anything fake he wrote and wouldn’t blame him for any other theories, and keep in mind the John Birch Society tried to reel Sutton in. Stitching Sutton to some disinfo op would be standard practice. ECP reminds me a lot of where David Icke is. Sherman brought down a Cook County Judge, no small accomplishment, but he was surrounded by ops from then on and seems to have gone off the deep end. Perhaps they have a cosmic ray gun for turning researchers into raving kooks looking for UFO’s and such.

  2. “Perhaps they have a cosmic ray gun for turning researchers into raving kooks looking for UFO’s and such…”

    Like, erm, David Shayler? And what’s up with the curious timing of the “coming out” of “Chelsea” Manning, eh? Did Phil Ochs cross-dress, too…?

    Brussell initially sucked me in over Lennon’s assassination (I’m going with the “doorman was the trigger-man” theory these days)… I can’t remember on which topic she disappointed and lost me. Mr. Skolnick’s work blew my mind on the matter of the Patty Hearst Show; also very good on Jesse Jackson. Alex Constantine: never. My “favorite” day-glo disinfo scam was the duo (FM & DH) claiming that all plots could be traced to an ancient cabal of radical Lesbians, but I digress…

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