Jean-Michel Basquiat (December 22, 1960 - August 12, 1988) was the first African American painter to become an international art star. He had accidentally taken an overdose of mixed-drug toxicity and died in his Great Jones Street loft/studio (No. 57) in the East Village, NY at the age of 27.
In 1977, at the age of 17, Basquiat and his friend Al Diaz started spray-painting graffiti art on buildings in Lower Manhattan adding the infamous signature of "SAMO" (i.e. "same old shit") Basquiat attended Edward R. Murrow Highschool in Brooklyn, but he dropped out and left home one year before graduating. By 1981, he had turned from spraying graffiti to selling paintings in SoHo galleries, rapidly becoming one of the most accomplished artists of his generation. Critics noted the originality of his work, its emotional depth, unique iconography, and formal strengths in color, composition, and drawing.
Basquiat's paintings continue to influence modern-day artists and command high prices.