New ‘Basquiat-isms’ Book Explores The Relentless Image-Maker’s World

More than 30 years after his death, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s name still conjures a glamorous boy genius. 

Although his career lasted only eight years from 1980 until his untimely death in 1988, the figurative artist has developed thousands upon thousands of artworks — with 1,000 pieces produced on paper alone by the Brooklyn-born graffitist. Incorporated in many of his works are poetic texts and phrases with some as abstract as the compositions they are painted on.

These words, no matter how hard they are to read at times, offer small clues into the intimate thoughts of the late icon whether it’s a comment on socio-political issues or just his real-life experiences.

Renowned New York publisher Larry Warsh recently published his new Basquiat-isms book that places Basquiat’s worldview front and center. Included in the palm-sized tome are essential quotes culled from past interviews alongside his visual and written works.

From his criticisms of the fine contemporary art world to his musings of subjects that have made a profound impact on his practice, Warsh curated a most memorable selection of written dialogue that spans 144 pages.

We linked up with Warsh to discuss the inspiration behind the book, takeaways for readers, and future plans for his -isms series. Read the full Q&A below. Basquiat-isms is available to purchase online for $12,95 USD from Princeton University Press, Amazon, and select bookstores nationwide.