Happy Birthday to the Much-Loved Jean-Michel Basquiat

Artsy Editorial
Dec 22, 2013 6:01PM

It’s Basquiat’s Birthday. So who should we invite to his party? If it were the mid ’80s, it would be friend and collaborator Andy Warhol, his pals from Warhol’s famous loft “The Factory”, collaborators Keith Haring and Debbie Harry, and his once-girlfriend, Madonna. (Especially if Madonna would sing Happy Birthday, like she did for Haring.)

Today, it seems we’d honor the legendary graffiti artist-turned-internationally praised painter—who in just eight years, amassed 1,000 pieces of art in his inimitable style and showed in galleries from New York City to Tokyo—with a party of his fans who, aside from their adoration for Basquiat, share a common love: music. “He used to say he was jealous of me because music is more accessible and it reached more people,” Madonna told The Guardian in ’96 of Basquiat; which is ironic in a time when rappers including Jay-Z, Nas, Swizz Beats, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, A$AP Rocky, Busta Rhymes, Lil Wayne, and Rick Ross—among many others—drop his name in their songs. Surely Jay-Z, seen here posing with a $4.5 million Basquiat he recently purchased at a Sotheby’s auction, and whose Basquiat name checks are nearing countless, would be the first guest on our party list.

Artsy Editorial