Poet, Painter and Prodigy: Photographs of the Real Jean-Michel Basquiat

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Jean Michel Basquiat fashion style studio Richard Corman
BASQUIAT: A PORTRAIT by Richard CormanPhotography by Richard Corman

BASQUIAT: A PORTRAIT by Richard Corman shines a new light on the Radiant Child

When Richard Corman walked into Jean-Michel Basquiat’s loft in downtown New York, sometime in 1984, he was confronted with “a wave of creative confusion”. He had entered into the domain of one of the 20th-century’s greatest minds: a poet, a painter, a post-punk prodigy, the Radiant Child. “The room was a swirl of people, paint, canvas, colour and smoke,” Corman remembers. “Off in the corner was Basquiat submerged and almost invisible.” In Corman’s images, which were taken later that day and are published in a new, limited edition book titled BASQUIAT: A PORTRAIT, the real Basquiat steps out of the shadows.

Photographed against a plain, grey paper backdrop, the artist (or “complicated genius” as Corman calls him) wears an unassuming outfit – a simple herringbone suit and a striped, slightly crumpled shirt. And yet there’s something very revealing about these images. As Corman says in a recent interview with Another Man, “He was remarkable to photograph, as he ultimately seemed to share his intense and raw persona through his eyes, hands and what seemed to be an uncomfortable body language. I have never photographed anyone with his type of presence since.”

Out today, BASQUIAT: A PORTRAIT is published in a limited edition run of 500 books, each signed and numbered by Corman. In it, you meet the man behind the myth; an artist who remains as relevant – and revered – today as he’s ever been.

Basquiat: A Portrait is a limited edition publication of 500 books. Each book is signed and numbered by the photographer Richard Corman. Available to buy exclusively on Vero.