“This is why I paint,” he says. “To get black men into museums”

Jean-Michel Basquiat - Untitled (Refrigerator), 1981

My father was intelligent and hardworking. He taught himself everything. He drove a big Cadillac so that we would be like the children of the doctors and lawyers. However, he was domineering and violent. He believed that we would respect him if we feared him. We feared him.

I realized that a book can reach out and embrace you like an arm and make you walk away from everything you thought you understood.

When he could, he always left enormous tips. He loved to shock, even shock with generosity. It was like punching someone.

Most of Jean-Michel’s outlandish behavior has to do with a desire to fuck with people’s racism.

He takes a blue marker out of his pocket and paints on Suzanne’s arm. He paints her humerus, ulna, radius and carpus. He writes “animal cell” on the inside of her wrist. He draws a ring around her finger.
“Now you are my wife,” he says.

Keith [Haring] was an amazing person. It was really he who brought graffiti into the SoHo galleries. He opened the door for it and made it legitimate somehow. [...] The white art world disgusted him. I think he was a lot more responsible for bringing graffiti into SoHo and the East Village than Jean was. Jean was black and had to present himself as separate from graffiti somehow. Keith was gay and white and could glamorize graffiti in a way that Jean could not. Jean and Keith both understood this.

“Venus, morning glory, sweet potato, I have the money and you have the gold. JMB.”

He had crossed the line, the invisible line in drug addiction. Every heroin addict has some sense of where that line is. It is a choice to cross it. I chose not to.

Suzanne says, “You know, I kept no souvenirs. I did not want to be a tourist in my own life.”

Jennifer Clement, Widow Basquiat, A love story (Broadway Books-2001/2014)