“It could have been me. It could have been me.”
– Basquiat on the death of Michael Stewart, his friend and a fellow artist

Basquiat identified deeply with the individuals he depicted in his paintings. His portraits explore issues of identity – specifically, black male identity – and can also be seen as mirrored images of the artist himself. From his heroes to his friends, Basquiat painted people he related to and admired. The dual identities in his works speak to the experiences he felt he shared with his subjects.