Madonna photographed by Richard Corman, 1983.
Madonna photographed by Richard Corman, 1983.
Jean-Michel Basquiat and Madonna while they were dating, 1983.
Photo by Maripol
Madonna, a former lover of Jean-Michel Basquiat tells her story
I am not sure if I met Jean-Michel in an art gallery or a night-club, but in those days you couldn’t tell the difference.
He had the presence of a movie star and I was crazy about him. He carried crumpled wads of money in the pockets of his paint-splattered Armani suits. Money he felt guilty about having. Money he always gave away to less fortunate friends.
I remember Jean-Michel’s tag – Samo- which was accompanied with a little crown and I remember thinking he was a genius. He was. But he wasn’t very comfortable with it.
I remember all the girls were in love with him and one night I looked out of his loft window and saw a girl whose heart he had broken, burning his paintings in a big bonfire. I wanted to stop her and rescue his paintings, but he didn’t seem to mind. He said it was their fate.
I remember him getting up at 3am and sleep-walking to an empty canvas. He stood inches away from it and proceeded to paint the most minuscule figures and what he did was so beautiful and intellectual and I stood watching him with dumbfounded amazement
He was one of the people I was truly envious of. But he didn’t know how good he was and was plagued with insecurities. He used to say he was jealous of me because music is more accessible and it reached more people. He loathed the idea that art was appreciated by an elite group.
When I broke up with him he demanded I give back the paintings he had given me. Not because he didn’t think I deserved them, but because he was obsessed with the idea that I would sell them.
He was so paranoid. Of course, I was heart-broken but complied. Now I couldn’t buy one of his paintings if I wanted to.
When I heard that Jean-Michel had died I was not surprised. He was too fragile for this world.
I remember one summer having dinner with Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel at Mr Chow’s and feeling like the luckiest girl in the world to have known him. To have known all of them. Now they’re all gone.
18-year-old Madonna photographed by Cecil I. Taylor at the Art Worlds Institute of Creative Arts in Ann Arbor, Michigan on May 3, 1977.
Newlyweds Madonna and Sean Penn photographed by Herb Ritts, September 1985.
Madonna and Jean-Michel Basquiat photographed by Glenn O’Brien, 1982.
Jean-Michel Basquiat and Madonna photographed by Stephen Torton, 1982.
Madonna and Basquiat dated for a while, but his heroin addiction ended up pulling them apart. “He was an amazing man and deeply talented. I loved him,” she said. “When I broke up with him, he made me give all [his paintings] back to him. And then he painted over them black.” She regrets giving the art back, but felt pressured to do so since it was something he had created. (The Howard Stern Show, March 2015)
Madonna: “Basquiat was my boyfriend for a while, and I remember getting up in the middle of the night and he wouldn’t be in bed lying next to me; he’d be standing, painting, at four in the morning, this close to the canvas, in a trance. I was blown away by that, that he worked when he felt moved. And they gave jobs to everyone. Keith would meet kids on the street and ask them to come stretch his canvases for him. Basquiat had every B-boy and every graffiti artist in his loft. He was constantly giving everything away. I think they felt guilty that they became successful and were surrounded by people who were penniless, so they shared what they had. They were incredibly generous people, and that rubbed off on me. You stay inspired that way. I could never work in a recording studio where you have this lovely view and a beach and the waves are crashing. For me, it’s all about being in a tiny room with little windows. It’s almost like you have to be in a prison. And you can create beauty when you’re in that sort of deprived environment, which is a re-creation of your formative years.”
“I remember having conversations with Keith [Haring] and with Basquiat about the importance of your art being accessible to people,“ she recalled. “That was their big thing—it should be available to everyone. It was so important for Keith to be able to draw on subways and walls. And Basquiat used to say to me, ‘You’re so lucky that you make music, because music comes out of radios everywhere.’ He thought that what I did was more pop, more connected to pop culture than what he did. Little did he know that his art would become pop culture. But it’s not like we really had discussions about the meaning of art. I remember hearing them talk about those things.”
(Interview Magazine, December 2014)
Madonna photographed by Steven Klein, 2005.