Born on December 22, the son of a Haitian father, Gérard, and a Puerto Rican mother, Matilde.
Moves with his family to Puerto Rico for two years for Gérard’s work. 1976 Back in New York, enrolls at Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, moving to City-as-School High School, an alternative school that follows an experiential learning model, a few weeks later.
With graffiti artist Al Díaz, creates the fictitious artist SAMO (short for “same old shit”), signing this name to graffiti spray-painted on buildings in lower Manhattan that expresses hermetic and, at times, comical, political, religious, and philosophical ideas. Drops out of school. 1978 Leaves home. 1979 Forms the band Channel 9 with Michael Holman, Shannon Dawson, and Vincent Gallo.
Basquiat’s work is shown for the first time, in a group exhibition organized by Collaborative Projects Incorporated (Colab) and the Fashion Gallery in an abandoned building on Forty-first Street and Seventh Avenue in Times Square; the show also includes work by David Hammons, Jenny Holzer, Kenny Scharf, and Kiki Smith.
Stars in the film Downtown 81, originally titled NewYork Beat Movie, directed by Edo Bertoglio. René Ricard writes an article about Basquiat, “The Radiant Child,” for Artforum.
Has a solo exhibition at Galleria d’Arte Emilio Mazzoli in Modena, Italy. Basquiat’s work is featured in Transavanguardia: Italia- America, at Galleria Civica del Comune di Modena in Modena, Italy, together with artists such as Sandro Chia, Francesco Clemente, Enzo Cucchi, David Deutsch, David Salle, and Julian Schnabel. Has his first solo exhibition in the United States, at Annina Nosei Gallery in New York. Has solo exhibitions at Galerie Bruno Bischofberger in Zurich, Marlborough Gallery in New York, and Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles. Participates in Documenta 7 in Kassel, Germany. Meets Andy Warhol.
Creates a series of works with Warhol and Clemente. A selection of Basquiat’s paintings from the previous three years is displayed at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh and later at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam.