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While it may be a cliché, Jean-Michel Basquiat was the embodiment of an artist who who lived fast, died young and left a beautiful corpse. He perished at age 27 of a heroin overdose, and ascended into legend, becoming the subject of movie about his life and a household name alongside that of his friend, Andy Warhol. Before all that, there was his meteoric rise as a graffiti artist who rocketed to art-world stardom. He wasn’t some talentless fluke who managed to con the right people, either: His paintings—ferociously packed with imagery and texts, and crackling with street smart insights—have stood the test of time.
The seeming spontaneity of his work was one of its hallmarks, but in truth, they were a lot more thought out than some people might imagine. That’s one revelation of the Brooklyn Museum’s "Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks,” which presents the Brooklyn native’s previously unseen sketches and writings, some 160 pages in all. The show also includes examples of his poetry, demonstrating that he was just as interested in the word as he was in the brush. All in all the show provides a fascinating look into the creative process of an artistic icon.