Basquiat’s collaborator releases unseen pics of the artist

SAMO© was a pioneering, playful force on the streets of New York in the 1970s: the alias of Jean-Michel Basquiat and high school mate and artist Al Diaz, SAMO© painted poetry throughout NYC. Meaning ‘Same Old Shit’, some of their most famous guerilla slogans included “SAMO© SAVES IDIOTS AND GONZOIDS…”, “SAMO©… 4 THE SO-CALLED AVANT-GARDE” and “SAMO© as an alternative 2 playing art with the ‘radical chic’ sect on Daddy’s $ funds”.

Now, Al Diaz, a street art legend, is releasing a full collection of new original works, limited edition prints and pieces of merchandise this week (June 1) via House of Roulx. Over on his Instagram page, he’s been posting some never-before-seen photographs of his friend and artistic peer. One depicts a shot of the pair together at the height of their SAMO© days – a rare treat. Taken from his personal archive and scrapbooks, prints show Basquiat as a 16-year-old. Merchandise includes enamel pins and embroidered badges.

Following their time as a collective, Basquiat went on to blow up the contemporary artworld with his raw, energetic neo-expressionist works. Remembered for his post-punk poetry and painting that ripped open themes of pop culture and racial politics, collabs with Andy Warhol and dabblings in music, film and TV with his underground creative peers, Basquiat tragically died at 28 from a heroin overdose.

Al Diaz’s work spans across five decades, evolving as a text-focused street artist. Known for his WET PAINT work around New York’s subway, Diaz produces witty, frank anagrams around the underground systems.

Later this year, Boom For Real will open at London’s Barbican from September, marking the revolutionary American artist’s first large-scale UK exhibition. Over 100 works of Basquiat’s will go on display, bringing together pieces from his first body of work. The exhibition aims to illustrate his fast, stratospheric rise in the art world, including pieces unseen for 35 years. It will include famous and lesser known art, as well as notebooks and personal drawings.

In the meantime, check out some of the beautiful, previously unseen images of Jean-Michel Basquiat, as taken by Al Diaz, below.