Jean-Michel Basquiat (1982 painting)

Jean-Michel Basquiat is a painting created by American artist Andy Warhol in 1982. Warhol made multiple silkscreen portraits of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat using his "piss paintings."

Jean-Michel Basquiat
ArtistAndy Warhol
MediumMetallic pigment, acrylic, silkscreen ink and urine on canvas
MovementPop art
SubjectJean-Michel Basquiat
Dimensions100 cm × 100 cm (40 in × 40 in)


In 1979, Jean-Michel Basquiat approached Warhol in a restaurant and sold him a postcard.[1] Basquiat later went to Warhol's Factory and sold him some of the painted sweatshirts he was selling. "I just wanted to meet him, he was an art hero of mine," Basquiat recalled.[2]

By 1982, Basquiat made the transition from graffiti artist to one of the leading figures in the Neo-expressionism movement.[3] Bruno Bischofberger became Basquiat's art dealer and gave him a one-man show at his Zurich gallery in September 1982.[4] Bischofberger also represented Warhol and arranged a lunch meeting between the two artists on October 4, 1982.[5] Warhol documented the meeting in a diary entry, which was posthumously published in The Andy Warhol Diaries (1989):

Down to meet Bruno Bischofberger (cab $7.50). He brought Jean-Michel Basquiat with him. He's the kid who used the name "Samo" when he used to sit on the sidewalk in Greenwich Village and paint T-shirts, and I'd give him $10 here and there…He's just one of those kids who drove me crazy. He's black but some people say he's Puerto Rican so I don't know. And then Bruno discovered him and now he’s on Easy Street. He's got a great loft on Christie Street. He was a middle-class Brooklyn kid—I mean, he went to college and things—and he was trying to be like that, painting in the Greenwich Village. And so had lunch for them and then I took a Polaroid and he went home and within two hours a painting was back, still wet, of him and me together. And I mean, just getting to Christie Street must have taken an hour. He told me his assistant painted it.[6]

This meeting established a friendship between them, "Warhol the established master of Pop Art, and Basquiat, the brash wunderkind of the New York art scene.[7] Basquiat created the painting Dos Cabezas (1982) based on one of the Polaroids Warhol took of them, and Warhol created multiple portraits of Basquiat from a Polaroid he took of him.[8] One portrait is part of the permanent collection of The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.[7]American businessman Peter Brant, a major collector of both Warhol and Basquiat, owned one of the portraits.[9] In November 2021, Brant sold his portrait at Christie's 20th Century Evening Sale for $40 million.[10]


Jean-Michel Basquiat was created using a complex tracing and silkscreening process, using layers of colors of silkscreen ink on top of a background of acrylic polymer paint, applied to a 40-by-40-inch canvas. It is also one of Warhol's "piss paintings," meaning the colors were oxidized by evaporating urine.[11]

Warhol began experiment with urine in the early 1960s, and in 1978 he "developed the piss-painting technique as a way of introducing a random element—an ironic paraphrase of the hero of Abstract Expressionism, Jackson Pollock, with his drip technique."[11]

Warhol coated the canvas with copper paint and either he or an assistant urinated directly onto the canvas.[8] Warhol wrote in his diary that he preferred the "contributions" of his assistant Ronnie Cutrone "because he takes a lot of vitamin B so the canvas turns a really pretty color when it’s his piss."[8]


  1. ^ Brumfitt, Stuart (September 19, 2017). "New York Inspiration | Tales from Teen Basquiat's Best Friend". Amuse. Retrieved 2020-10-04.
  2. ^ The New York Times Guide to the Arts of the 20th Century: 1900-1929. Taylor & Francis. 2002. p. 2547. ISBN 978-1-57958-290-6.
  3. ^ "About Neo-Expressionism". Sotheby's.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ Hoban, Phoebe (1998). Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art. Internet Archive. New York : Viking. p. 134. ISBN 978-0-670-85477-6.
  5. ^ Faughnan, Ally (May 28, 2019). "The best, worst, and weirdest parts of Warhol and Basquiat's friendship". Dazed. Retrieved 2020-10-04.
  6. ^ Warhol, Andy; Hackett, Pat (1989). The Andy Warhol diaries. The Archive of Contemporary Music. New York, NY : Warner Books. p. 462. ISBN 978-0-446-51426-2.
  7. ^ a b Stanley, Jessica (October 4, 2021). "Warhol's Portrait of Basquiat from the Collection of Peter Brant to Highlight Christie's 20th Century Evening Sale in New York". Christie's. Retrieved 2021-10-07.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ a b c McGreevy, Nora (October 6, 2021). "Why Andy Warhol Peed on This Portrait of Jean-Michel Basquiat". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 2021-10-07.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ Villa, Angelica (2021-10-04). "Peter Brant to Sell $20 M. Warhol Basquiat Portrait at Christie's". Retrieved 2021-10-07.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ "Warhol's Portrait of Basquiat Tops Christie's Sale Achieving $40,091,500". Artlyst. Retrieved 2021-11-12.
  11. ^ a b Emmerling, Leonhard (2003). Jean-Michel Basquiat: 1960-1988. Taschen. p. 63. ISBN 978-3-8228-1637-0.