Spanista » Self Care Rituals, Reflections & Resources for Joyful Living by Ginny Shiverdecker

Basquiat Rediscovered Genius Leaves Life Lessons


Dear Wellness Seekers,

Basquiat Rediscovered Genius Leaves Life Lessons is a happy discovery in a recent issue of New Your Times Style Magazine. I found Jean-Michel Basquiat interesting when he caught the public eye in the 80’s and today as a Spanista I find him even more fascinating. While it is sad that he is no longer with us due to an untimely death, I am excited to know there is renewed interest in his talents – his neo-expressionist creative work and the many dimensions of his creative spirit redefined art. I was and continue to be drawn to his early work as part of SAMO – where his inspired interpretation of words as graphic images capture my imagination and still even more so today.

While I was in New York recently, I came upon a great t-shirt with his name with crown icon in his handwriting. I had to have it to support his memory. He was so ahead of his time. Funny that he would surface in “T” so soon after the purchase.


Jean-Michel Basquiat (December 22, 1960 – August 12, 1988) was an American artist, musician and producer. But ultimately he was a poet with exceptional ability to par down feelings into the essence of rhythmic story as art.

The NYTimes Magazine feature by Lu Sante, “The Rediscovered Genius of Jean-Michel Basquiat” talks about his unknown 8 notebooks now owned by Larry Warsh that just went on display at the Brooklyn Museum.  If you are there check it out. They hold the late artist’s rarely seen personal writings and sketches that are expressions of 1980’s downtown New York and perhaps holds his truest vision. To put this is context we are talking about a period in history when Wall Street’s plush power and wealth was at a new peak of indulgences when drugs flowed easily amongst the monied. The art world was deeply intertwined with Wall Street.

His rise to fame was meteoric, but his growing heroin addiction began to interfere with his personal relationships. Concepts like Self Awareness and Self Care were not in our cultural lexicon then. It was an indulgent and materialistic period in our history that eventually went awry. His story is one of struggling genius so read on.

As an adult Jean-Michel dealt with challenges that stem back to his youth – he was a precocious child learning how to read and write by 4 – and demonstrated he was a gifted artist. His mother and became institutionalized when he was 11. He was struck by a car and took time to recover. His father pushed his troubled son out on the street as a teen. Basquiat worked  odd jobs to stay alive and joined a special art school for troubled kinds where is talents were channeled productively. But his emotional wounds ran deep by then.


Per Wikipedia – “One day Jean-Michel and Andy Warhol crossed paths which lead to a close, collaborative friendship. When Andy Warhol died on February 22, 1987, Basquiat became increasingly isolated, and his heroin addiction and depression grew more severe. Despite an attempt at sobriety, Basquiat died on August 12, 1988, of a heroin overdose at his art studio in New York City’s NoHo neighborhood. He was 27.”

A life of great energy that could have been channeled with Self Care practices perhaps? Read more about him on

Spanista Takeaway: Basquiat Rediscovered Genius Leaves Life Lessons reminds us how precious yet challenging life’s journey can be, especially if one has talents that make one different from the norm. And how channeling personal pain must be addressed productively as to survive it. We all experience pain sometime or another, so how do we manage it to our advantage? It is dangerous to mask it with drugs of any sort as a long-term solution. Today we can turn to Self Awareness and Self Care Practices to deal with our emotional pain points. Spanista suggests when one feels out of touch, it is best to get in touch with one’s body. Get out of one’s head in order to feel what the body tells us.  Then we can go about constructively exploring the right path to healing body, heart and mind for the better. May Basquiat’s experience be a story we learn from.  

Would love your thoughts about lessons from Basquiat’s life?

To Your Self Care Journey To Joy,


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