Site hosted by Build your free website today!
Home | The Radient Child | SAMO is Born | To Repel Ghosts | Riding With Death

This page features a compliation of excerpts from the book "Basquiat" by Phoebe Hoban. I found this book to be an excellent reference into the personality and life of Basquiat. The descriptions of Jean-Michel's charcter by the people who knew or were acquainted with him at some point in his life are detailed and insightful. These are some of the details of his personality that I particularly found interesting. There are many more details that describe him as fun, unique, full of life, child like and brilliant.

"About five feet, ten inches tall, Basquiat had been a runner as a teenager, and he had an athlete's grace. His charisma and sex appeal were magnets for women of all ages. Basquait was aware of this power, and his confidence often bordered on cockiness, but he never seemed to feel completely comfortable in his own skin."

"He enjoyed portraying himself as a bum. Not just as a comment on the racism he often felt, but as an homage to the Beat movement. He eagerly disowned his family. When people asked about his background, he would pretend he was a street urchin, and friends were often surprised when they learned that his father was a middle-class accountant."

"With the exception of one or two brief encounters, virtually all of Basquiat's lovers were white; indeed, a number of them were classic blondes. His romances would begin obsessively, the artist in hot pursuit until he made his conquest, at which point he would drop the confused object of desire. Then, suddenly, he would attempt to rekindle the relationship. The second acceptance, a kind of return of the prodigal boyfriend was a double victory, and he sometimes continued a fling, on and off, for years."

Top Left: Basquiat and Maddona who he had a short relationship with in 1982.

Bottom Left: Basquiat and Jennifer Goode. He had the longest standing and most serious relationship with her.

Bottom Right: Basquiat and Suzanne Mallouk another relationship that continued on and off for a number of years

"There was something one couldn't quite explain, some mystery of Jean-Michel. You could see it in his eyes. And it used to scare people, what his eyes looked like. Or if you weren't scared, there was something compelling about him. And he knew that, he worked it. Some people couldn't take it. He was a brilliant painter, a horrible egotist, he was a total selfish brat, he was a kind, gentle, pained spirit, he was a hurt little boy, and arrogant old man, and everything in between. He was just a rare person. Look at his art."

"From the time he first started making money, Basquiat was known for his inordinate generosity; he would hand out fifty- and one-hundred-dollar bills to bums, or tuck cash into the pockets of homeless people sleeping on the street. Basquait's attitude toward money was as conflicted as his attitude toward success: on the one hand, by deliberately mismanaging his finances, he was, once again, rebelling against his accountant father. On the other hand, he lavished gifts on girlfriends and hangers-on, as if he were somehow trying to buy love."

"One day, he went out and bought maybe three color TV's, a big recording thing, stereos, suits. I mean he must have spent ten thousand dollars, and he came back with he delivery guy and they unloaded it all and then he sat down on the couch and started crying like a little kid. He would buy cakes and fill the whole refrigerator with French pastries until they would go bad. He was doing so much coke that he would wake up in the middle of the night, screaming, 'The CIA is going to kill me.' So we put a sophisticated alarm system on all the windows. He thought the CIA was going to kill him because he was a famous black man."

"He needed constant sources of excitement, in whatever form that took, whether it was money or sex or drugs or pain. He was just like a kind of tragic figure, someone who when they just can't get any more, ends up with a feeling of this crashing emptiness, and finally just implodes."

"Basquiat was spending upwards of $300 a day on heroin at this point. And then it escalated, and his sources dried up, and so he had to start going to the street. And he'd have to do more of the street stuff because it wasn't as strong. It made him function less and less, and he painted less and less. His paintings were getting muddier. They weren't as clear. But he still idolized people who took heroin. He loved William Burroughs."

"By now Basquait was almost a recluse. He dressed in pajamas, could often be seen pedaling his small red bike to the East Village for drugs. He was quickly eroding into a mer caricature; a cartoon junkie with predictably mercurial ups and downs. The child-like idiosyncrasies that contributed not only to his charisma but to his talent had degenerated into a perverse series of behavioral tics. His bad-boy routine was getting boring, as was his formulaic painting."

"But most of all, he seemed to feel totally alone. The year since Andy (Andy Warhol) died had been awful. He missed Andy unbearable, and said that his best times had been with Andy. He continued his litany of sorrow between hits of heroin, aiming the needle into his neck or his hand."

"Basquiat's drug addiction- the wool over his eyes- insulated him from the increasingly painful truth; that success had an untenable price. But even drugs could not blind him to the fact that in the harsh reality of the marketplace, all that mattered was profit. And the more successful he became, the less the quality of his art actually mattered. Nor could success buy him the love he craved. He had lost Warhol and Jennifer ( Jennifer Goode was the longest standing romatic relationship Basquiat held with a woman. ). And in the last year, he had barely communicated with his father. Basquiat tried to anesthetize himself with drugs, but he couldn't escape the fact that the very success he had always sought was destroying him."


The Artist The Man | He Lives Selected Works | Info and Links | Guestbook