new york art 80s

Madonna, a former lover of Jean-Michel Basquiat tells her story

I am not sure if I met Jean-Michel in an art gallery or a night-club, but in those days you couldn’t tell the difference.

He had the presence of a movie star and I was crazy about him. He carried crumpled wads of money in the pockets of his paint-splattered Armani suits. Money he felt guilty about having. Money he always gave away to less fortunate friends.

I remember Jean-Michel’s tag - Samo- which was accompanied with a little crown and I remember thinking he was a genius. He was. But he wasn’t very comfortable with it.

I remember all the girls were in love with him and one night I looked out of his loft window and saw a girl whose heart he had broken, burning his paintings in a big bonfire. I wanted to stop her and rescue his paintings, but he didn’t seem to mind. He said it was their fate.

I remember him getting up at 3am and sleep-walking to an empty canvas. He stood inches away from it and proceeded to paint the most minuscule figures and what he did was so beautiful and intellectual and I stood watching him with dumbfounded amazement

He was one of the people I was truly envious of. But he didn’t know how good he was and was plagued with insecurities. He used to say he was jealous of me because music is more accessible and it reached more people. He loathed the idea that art was appreciated by an elite group.

When I broke up with him he demanded I give back the paintings he had given me. Not because he didn’t think I deserved them, but because he was obsessed with the idea that I would sell them.

He was so paranoid. of course, I was heart-broken but complied. Now I couldn’t buy one of his paintings if I wanted to.

When I heard that Jean-Michel had died I was not surprised. He was too fragile for this world.

I remember one summer having dinner with Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel at Mr Chow’s and feeling like the luckiest girl in the world to have known him. To have known all of them. Now they’re all gone.

(Source:  New Straits Times - 2 June 1996)

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Graffiti artist Lady Pink photographed by Lisa Kahane wearing a Jenny Holzer T-shirt,1983.

“The ‘Truisms’ (1977- 79) were perhaps an overly ambitious attempt to make an outline of everything that I wanted to do. I’m not sure I knew that at the time I wrote them, but that’s what I’ve come to recognize. I wanted to have almost every subject represented, almost every possible point of view, and then I had to sort out what those sentences should appear on.” - Jenny Holzer