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50 Jean-Michel Basquiat Quotes on Contemporary Arts

2. “I don’t listen to what art critics say. I don’t know anybody who needs a critic to find out what art is.”

3. “If you wanna talk about influence, man, then you’ve got to realize that influence is not influence. It’s simply someone’s idea going through my new mind.”

4. “I start a picture and I finish it. I don’t think about art while I work. I try to think about life.”

5. “Graffiti has a lot of rules in it as to what you can do and what you can’t do, and I think it’s hard to make art under those conditions.”

6. “I cross out words so you will see them more; the fact that they are obscured makes you want to read them.”

7. “The more I paint the more I like everything.”

8. “The Black person is the protagonist in most of my paintings. I realized that I didn’t see many paintings with Black people in them.”

9. “I like kids’ work more than work by real artists any day.”

10. “SAMO as an end to mind wash religion, nowhere politics and bogus philosophy.”

11. “Believe it or not, I can actually draw.”

12. “Most young kings get their heads cut off.”

13. “I am not a Black artist, I am an artist.”

14. “Every single line means something.”

15. “Fire will attract more attention than any other cry for help.”

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16. “I was trying to communicate an idea; I was trying to paint a very urban landscape. I was trying to make paintings different from the paintings that I saw a lot of at the time, which were mostly minimal, and they were highbrow and alienating, and I wanted to make very direct paintings that most people would feel the emotion behind when they saw them.”

17. “Art is how we decorate space, music is how we decorate time.”

18. “If I’m away from painting for a week, I get bored.”

19. “I like to have information rather than just have a brushstroke. Just to have these words to put in these feelings underneath.”

20. “Occasionally, when I get mad at a woman, I’ll do some great, awful painting about her.”

21. “I want to make paintings that look as if they were made by a child.”

22.“I have a painting where somebody’s holding a chicken, and underneath the chicken is somebody’s head.”

23. “For a while, I was drawing on good paper, but now I’ve gone back to the bad stuff. If you put matte medium on it, it seals up, so it doesn’t really matter.”

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24. “At that point, an artist was somebody who could draw, but my ideas have changed since then. Now, I see an artist as something a lot broader than that.”

25. “I had some money, I made the best paintings ever. I was completely reclusive, worked a lot, took a lot of drugs. I was awful to people.”

26. “I thought I wanted to be a cartoonist when I was younger and then I changed to painting when I was about 15 or so.”

27. “I’d think about all my heroes, Charlie Parker, Jimi Hendrix—I had a romantic feeling about how these people became famous.”

28. “I was a really lousy artist as a kid. Too abstract expressionist; or I’d draw a big ram’s head, really messy.”

29. “I’m not a real person. I’m a legend.”

30. “I thought I was going to be a bum the rest of my life.”

31. “I played a guitar with a file and a synthesizer.”

32. “Since I was 17, I thought I might be a star.”

33. “I wanted to build up a name for myself.”

34. “There are about 30 words around you all the time, like ‘thread’ or ‘exit.’”

35. “I had very few friends. There was nobody I could trust.”

36. “It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.”

37. “Black people are never really portrayed realistically. They’re not even portrayed in modern art.”

38. “My basic influence had probably been Peter Max.”

39. “I have done only two portraits: one of the artist Francesco Clemente and another of Andy Warhol.”

40. “Medicine men live in caves.”

41. “I enjoy that they think I’m a bad boy. I think it’s great.”

42. “The country makes me more paranoid, you know? I think the crazy people out there are a little crazier.”

43. “Some days I can’t get an idea, and I think, ‘Man, I’m just washed up,’ but it’s just a mood.”

44. “I wanted to be a star, not a gallery mascot.”

45. “Charles Saatchi has never liked my work at all.”

46. “I was making art in an airplane once. I was copying some stuff out of a Roman sculpture book. This lady said, ‘Oh what are you studying?’ I said, ‘It’s a drawing.”

47. “I’d never win painting contests. I remember losing to a guy who did a perfect Spiderman.”

48. “I was inspired by John Cage at the time—music that isn’t really music. We were trying to be incomplete, abrasive, oddly beautiful.”

49. “It’s a copyright symbol, so I won’t get sued.”

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