Basquiat’s Second Death

Remember, that homeless painter I mentioned in one of my entries, last summer?

He used to sleep on or under his own canvases under Sarah’s window in Paris. Any cynical mind might have quickly pointed he was shooting for the Jean-Michel Basquiat theme. Whether wittingly or not. It had definitely not escaped the notice of hordes of bobos who now inhabits this neo-trendy chic neighbourhood: every other day, you could see neatly dressed young chaps congressing with the artist around a bottle of wine or a flask of whisky.

When I popped by in September, he was nowhere to be seen in the street and we simply assumed he’d been set-up in a fancy loft by one of his protector and on his way to become world-famous.

That was somewhat accurate, as it turns out he was the object of a few articles and documentaries on French TV around this time and even got an article in the Independent (free transcription here).

I learnt about all this in the last issue of Technikart my roommate brought home. But the article also mentioned that Joseph had recently died in a Paris hospital (possibly some liver disease or something else related to his insanely high daily consumption of alcohol)…

I bet all the two-bit modern-art snobs who rushed on the “down-and-out genius” wagon as soon as they smelled the possibility to cash in are jubilant: with our modern-time Basquiat dead, the legend is likely to thrive and the prices of all these paintings they traded for bottle of cheap whisky will soar to high heaven, at least for as long as the media hype lasts.

R.I.P. Mr. Joseph the Painter

Filed under: Europe


  1. I’m really sorry to write here about something completly different but I was unable to find your e-mail.
    Running through your blog I found two posts about he homeless french painter Joseph Joseph (AKA Josephe, The Painter), died in 2003.

    Under (not only) your words, this gentleman was a personification of the “celébre” Basquiat.

    Do you know, by chance, any link over internet where I could see some paintings of him?

    Thanks him advance and sorry again by writing here!

  2. Alexander

    Sorry if I wasn’t clear in my phrasing: I did not mean to imply in the least that his art was somewhat similar to Basquiat’s. Merely that his lifestyle and story (down to the end), were reminiscent of that other famous hobo-turned-painter…
    I have no idea where you can find links to his paintings online: I briefly chatted with him at the time, but didn’t want to bother him with photos of himself or his art… What I can tell you is that, if it was definitely not bad, it was definitely quite different from the style of Basquiat, despite the overall “naive” touch… If anything, I suspect some well-meaning art people (of whom I read there were quite a few around him toward the end) might have tried to guide him into that direction, with more or less subtlety…

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