Artists are curious creatures. A lot of them are known for their extravagance and erratic mood swings. Artists’ lives are often full of mystery, but their unusual stories are what have made them so unique and outstanding. The 20th century in particular gave birth to some of the most talented and creative people in history. Here are some interesting facts about artists of the contemporary world that you probably have never heard of.
Interesting Facts About Artists You Might Have Never Heard Of
Basquiat used to have a street art pseudonym
Before Jean-Michel Basquiat became popular under his actual name, he used to be known as “SAMO.” The artist used this name when he was a street artist. You could see “SAMO” painted on the walls of the buildings and subway trains in Brooklyn and the Bronx, accompanied by philosophical slogans. In the 70s in New York, “SAMO” was viewed as a mysterious urban legend, not unlike how we see Banksy these days. The history of this pseudonym’s origin is quite interesting on its own: it is a reference to a slang phrase used by elderly Black American men.
Keith Haring was inspired by a piece of paper he found on the street
It is always exciting when interesting facts about artists help us understand their works on a more profound level. Keith Haring was a pop artist and activist who dedicated a large portion of his work to spreading awareness about AIDS. The artist said that his lifelong ‘punk’ attitude and disregard toward societal norms were inspired by one scrap of paper that said “God is a dog” on one side and “Jesus is a monkey” on the other. Keith Haring admitted that this moment had a great influence on him as an artist. In his own words, “it triggered a punk attitude.”
Takashi Murakami’s work was influenced by the explosions in Chornobyl and Fukushima
Takashi Murakami is a contemporary artist known for his bright art style reminiscent of Japanese animation. He is a founder of the ‘superflat’ art movement, and his characters are recognized all over the world. One of the recurring motives in his work is nuclear explosions. The generation of Japanese people Takashi Murakami belongs to grew up in fear of nuclear explosions first evoked by Japanese documentaries constantly playing on TV, and later by the news of the Chornobyl catastrophe and the horrifying consequences it had. Murakami masterfully blends his cartoonish art style with serious topics.
Learning interesting facts about artists allows us to look at their work from a new perspective. After all, artists always put parts of themselves into their art pieces. Sometimes, to enjoy art to the fullest, you have to understand the context of its creation.