The Last Time I Saw Basquiat

Basquiat-studioLuc Sante at The New York Review of Books:

The first time I met Jean-Michel Basquiat was in the spring of 1979, at the Mudd Club. His hair was dyed orange and cut very short with a V-shaped widow’s peak in the front. He wore a lab coat and carried a briefcase. “Going on a trip?” I asked him. “Always,” he replied. He had a disquieting stare. He had probably taken fifty drugs that night, but it was clear there was a lot more to him than that.

He was sleeping on the floors of a rotating set of NYU dorm rooms then. He had no money at all. He had recently stopped tagging as SAMO and had renamed himself MAN-MADE, although that wasn’t a tag but a signature for things he made, T-shirts and collages and these color-Xerox postcards, which he sold for a buck or two. Eventually he sold one to Henry Geldzahler and one to Andy Warhol, and his name became currency.

Before that, though, he was still writing on walls, but as a poet rather than a tagger. I wish I could remember more of his works than just the one someone photographed him writing on Lafayette Street near Houston: “The whole livery line/ Bow like this with/ The big money all/ Crushed into these feet.”

more here.