Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Art History


In his short 27years, iconic artist Jean-Michel Basquiat produced thousands of works of art that were quickly sold and bought on the New York art market of the 1980s. During the height of the demand for his work, Basquiat was generally appreciated as a young street artist who broke his way into the main stream art world. Much of his success was due to critics/ dealers capitalizing upon his identity, rather than considering the complex cultural influences in his life and art. His primary achievement seems to be that he was a black artist, representing black themes, and successfully selling his work to the establishment. In my thesis, I look to reconsider the significance of Basquiat's work in the context of both street art and the booming gallery world of the Sos. My research will explore Basquiat's work from the context in which his art developed namely his upbringing, the hip hop generation, and surrounding influences in the art world.