Graffiti as Fine Art: The Case for Jean-Michele Basquiat

Kynnedy Masheck Butler University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Peter Wang Butler University
Jean-Michele Basquiat played off of society’s expectations of him, as a dreadlocked, half-Haitian, half-Puerto Rican young man, and the obsession in the elite world of white artists that followed, as a result, is one that feels exoticized and superficial. Basquiat took the world by storm with his anonymous poetry graffitied around New York City under the pseudonym SAMO during one of the greatest periods of white flight New York had ever seen. Basquiat’s art gained a cult following, fascinating white art elites and intriguing artists such as Andy Warhol. These markets treated Basquiat’s art monetarily and culturally like fine art. His graffiti and art that could be deemed less technically impressive truly is fine art, but it’s treatment as such led to a commodification of his art and ultimately his own demise. This context and the success of his art within it, as well as the personal effect that this success had on Basquiat, begs the following questions; Who is art for? How can art be defined? Why is art created? and Is graffiti fine art?
Art/Art History
Oral Presentation

When & Where

11:00 AM
Lilly Hall 141