January 28, 2021
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Armani suits and bare feet: how Jean-Michel Basquiat created his look

He was one of the most dazzling artists of his generation – but Jean-Michel Basquiat’s eclectic approach to dressing was a work of art in itself. Simon Chilvers pays homage

• Read more from the autumn/winter 2017 edition of The Fashion, our biannual fashion supplement

There’s an image of Jean-Michel Basquiat on the cover of the New York Times magazine from 1985. The photo is by Lizzie Himmel; the headline New Art, New Money. The artist, wearing a dark Giorgio Armani suit, white shirt and tie, leans back in a chair, one bare foot on the floor, the other up on a chair. The combination of the suit and the bare feet is typical of the way Basquiat defined his own image; always with an unconventional bent.

I’ve obsessed over his style when standing in front of Hollywood Africans, a 1983 work from a series where the images relate to stereotypes of African Americans in the entertainment business. It is a banger of a painting and will form part of Basquiat: Boom for Real, a retrospective opening at the Barbican in London this month.

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