25 Jean-Michel Basquiat Quotes by a Genius Artist

Enter the mind of a genius with our Jean-Michel Basquiat quotes. 

Jean-Michel Basquiat is remembered as one of the twentieth century’s most profound and influential artists

He challenged perceptions of wealth, poverty, and identity through his art

Find out more about his indelible legacy with our Jean-Michel Basquiat quotes below. 

Who was Jean-Michel Basquiat?

Jean-Michel Basquiat was an American artist who transformed how the public perceives art. 

Check out these Jean-Michel Basquiat facts below:

  • Basquiat was part of the famed SAMO graffiti duo. 
  • He was the youngest artist to have his work exhibited at Documenta in Germany. 
  • Basquiat was also the youngest artist featured at the Whitney Biennial in New York. 

What was Basquiat’s work about?

Basquiat was a genius at exploring duality. 

His work challenged familiar narratives on gender, sex, class struggle, identity, segregation, and self-esteem. 

He was a magician able to blend painting, text, poetry, and history into one expression.

Basquiat’s ability to use social commentary as a lane to enlighten the viewer was unique. 

How did Basquiat inspire hip-hop?

The rose that grew from concrete is an analogy that Tupac wrote about in his poetry. The idea is that something of beauty can be born in ugly conditions. 

In his own way, Baquiat is the rose who grew from concrete. 

He overcame challenging conditions and grew to become a master artist. 

Hip-hop is one of the most potent cultural exports in the world. 

Basquiat’s work is appreciated and admired by many hip-hop artists. 

Jay-Z has been one of the most outspoken emcees to acknowledge Basquiat’s artistry. 

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Aside from making music inspired by Basquiat, Hov has even taken the artist’s signature hairdo as his own. 

Does Basquiat still create art?

Unfortunately, Jean-Michel Basquiat died at the young age of 27. 

Since his death, his paintings have significantly increased in value. 

In 2017,  a fan bought a 1982 painting he made of a black skull.

The painting sold for a record-breaking 110.5 million dollars. 

To learn more, check out our Jean-Michel Basquiat quotes below. 

Short Jean-Michel Basquiat quotes about seeing with new eyes

As an artist, Basquiat uses visuals to redefine reality. 

1. “I start a picture, and I finish it.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

2. “Believe it or not, I can actually draw.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

3. “I wanted to build up a name for myself.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

4. “I wanted to be a star, not a gallery mascot.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

5. “I cross out words so you will see them more” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

The top Jean-Michel Basquiat quotes about the artist inside of you

Here, Basqiat explains how art saved his life and inspired our world. 

6. “Every single line means something.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

7. “I am not a black artist. I am an artist.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

8. “Most young kings get their heads cut off.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

9. “The more I paint, the more I like everything.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

10. “I don’t think about art when I’m working. I think about life.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

The best Jean-Michel Basquiat quotes about art and critics

What is art with critics? Basquiat explains below. 

11. “I don’t think about art while I work. I try to think about life.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

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12. “I don’t know anybody who needs a critic to find out what art is.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

13. “There are about 30 words around you all the time, like ‘thread’ or ‘exit.’” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

14. “Occasionally, when I get mad at a woman, I’ll do some great, awful painting about her.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

15. “If you wanna talk about influence, man, then you’ve got to realize that influence is not influence. It’s simply someone’s idea going through my new mind.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

Famous Jean-Michel Basquiat quotes about the soul of art

Basquiat opens up about the spirit of art in the world. 

16. “I like kids’ work more than work by real artists any day.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

17. “Fire will attract more attention than any other cry for help.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

18. “I was a really lousy artist as a kid. Too abstract expressionist.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

19. “I’d never win painting contests. I remember losing to a guy who did a perfect Spiderman.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

20. “The black person is the protagonist in most of my paintings. I realized that I didn’t see many paintings with black people in them.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean Michel-Basquiat quotes and sayings to live by

Here, we close out our list with some introspective Basquiat quotes. 

21. “If I’m away from painting for a week, I get bored.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

22. “My basic influence had probably been Peter Max” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

23. “The country makes me more paranoid, you know? I think the crazy people out there are a little crazier.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

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24. “I have a painting where somebody’s holding a chicken, and underneath the chicken is somebody’s head.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

25. “I had some money. I made the best paintings ever. I was completely reclusive, worked a lot, took a lot of drugs. I was awful to people.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

Beauty is the eye of the beholder

Jean-Michel Basquiat was born into a world that needed help. 

He did his best to leave the world more beautiful than it was when he arrived. 

Everyone benefits when we all choose to see the beauty in life. 

If you enjoyed these quotes, you will also like our Keith Haring quotes from another great NYC artist.

What is your favorite Jean-Michel Basquiat quote?

Be sure to let us know in the comments below. 

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