Inspiration: Jean-Michel Basquiat

From time to time we will post little articles about artists we admire, respect and have been inspired by. Artists who seem to share a similar “Boring ethos” that is unwavering and truly unique. These articles aren’t meant as all encompassing overviews or biographies of these artists, but more as little snapshots to share what motivates us as creatives and a company.

Jean-Michel Basquiat (December 22, 1960 – August 12, 1988) was an American artist. Basquiat first achieved fame as part of SAMO, an informal graffiti duo who wrote enigmatic epigrams in the cultural hotbed of the Lower East Side of Manhattan during the late 1970s where the hip hop, punk, and street art movements had coalesced. By the 1980s, he was exhibiting his neo-expressionist paintings in galleries and museums internationally. The Whitney Museum of American Art held a retrospective of his art in 1992. Basquiat’s art focused on “suggestive dichotomies”, such as wealth versus poverty, integration versus segregation, and inner versus outer experience. He appropriated poetry, drawing, and painting, and married text and image, abstraction, figuration, and historical information mixed with contemporary critique. Some of his works can be seen here.

Very few people know that he was also into making music. Playing in live bands, as well as experimenting with electronic music. At one time he was in a band called “Gray”. This band played at clubs and art events, and even released a record in 1967. In 2010, JMB’s bandmates releaesed “Gray, Shade of…”. It features reworked, reprogrammed and refreshed tunes that features JMB throughout. The album has 15 tracks and most are under 5 minutes long. The songs styles run the gamut from downtempo trip-hop, jazz rock fusion, sample heavy beat tracks to audio “performances” such as phone pranks JMB would act out while calling help lines. It sounds mixed up, weird and disjointed. And it is. But like his paintings, it is deeply layered and all seems to come together and make sense upon a complete listen from beginning to end. It is currently on repeat rotation in my studio and I hear something new and inspiring upon each listen. You can check it out and buy it here.

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