The late Jean-Michel Basquiat was an iconoclast of 1980s art who first began spray-painting designs and tagging public fixtures and later became a close friend and favorite young artist of Andy Warhol.

An exhibit of Basquiat paintings, drawings and prints is on display through Saturday, August 27th, at Ikon Ltd., 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica. Admission is free.

Basquiat befriended Warhol, who became a major patron of the young artist’s work, in 1983. Warhol and Basquiat worked on numerous paintings together during the years of their friendship.

Just one year after the death of Warhol in 1987, Basquiat was found dead of a heroin overdose at age 27.

His works were controversial, as he combined crudely done street art painting tactics with traditions established by the Fauves and Impressionists. He was also a modern pioneer of incorporating words with his painted images.

But Basquiat was much more sophisticated in his tastes than mere street art, and he was said to have developed his perception of the human body from studying Gray’s Anatomy, and was fond of the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci. Often, he had clever historical references infused in his works, such as in the piece “Radium 23,” making reference to the 19th century discovery of the radioactive element radium.

Some of his titles were formed out of quasi-acronyms such as SAMO, which stood for “same old ****.”

His early solo exhibitions included shows at the galleries of Annina Nosei and Larry Gagosian, and his work was also included in the “1983 Biennial Exhibition” at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Basquiat appeared on the cover of the February 10th, 1985 issue of The New York Times Magazine, posing for the article “New Art, New Money: The Marketing of an American Artist.”

His life and work have been the subject of a 1996 feature film titled, Basquiat, directed by Julian Schnabel and starring Jeffrey Wright as Basquiat and David Bowie as Warhol.

A Basquiat retrospective exhibit is also currently on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Los Angeles through Monday, October 10th.

Information, (310) 828-6629.

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