Jean-Michel Basquiat photo

Eminence Rise Media Celebrates Black History Month by Remembering Jean-Michel Basquiat Via His “200 Yen” Painting

Eminence Rise Media continues to be at the forefront of promoting artistic excellence and is excited to celebrate Black History Month by remembering Jean-Michel Basquiat as one of many notable African Americans during Black History Month 2024 via the late artist’s “200 Yen” masterpiece painting.

Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. The week-long event officially became Black History Month in 1976 when U.S. President Gerald Ford extended the recognition to “honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Black History Month has been celebrated in the United States every February since.

Among the many notable figures often spotlighted during Black History Month, one of them is Jean-Michel Basquiat. Born into a middle-class family, the son of Gerard, a Haitian immigrant, and Mathilde, a Brooklyn Boricua, Basquiat was a trailblazer of the Neo-expressionism movement during the 1980s. During that time Basquiat gained acclaim for his radical, expressionistic pieces that passionately called for the recognition of oppressed groups, denouncing racism, colonization, and capitalist domination. Despite initial struggles, Basquiat first gained recognition as part of the graffiti duo SAMO, which left its mark on the streets of New York City with its enigmatic messages and striking imagery. His early works were a fusion of words, stick figures, and animals, reflecting his raw talent and innate creativity. As an artist, he highlighted contrast, both mediumistic and conceptual.

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “200 Yen” Painting

Jean-Michel Basquiat's '200 Yen' masterpiece

“200 Yen” delves into Basquiat’s favored subjects, including colonization, commerce, racial discrimination, and oppression, all within a historical context. The recurring tag ‘SAMO,’ standing for ‘Same Old Sh*t,’ is a nod to Basquiat’s early career and his critical messages targeting the art establishment. ‘SAMO@’ continues to feature in later works, solidifying its significance. The explicit reference to ‘200 Yen’ aligns with the average exchange rate of the American Dollar to the Japanese Yen in 1982, symbolizing the rise of the Japanese economy as a dominating force ‘colonizing’ the early 1980s hegemony. Phrases like ‘TAX-FREE’ and imagery of a rocket draw parallels to the Opium Wars, a favored topic for Basquiat. The connection draws a historical parallel between the imposition of addictive products on colonized people in the past and the modern economic dependence imposed by new colonizers on the West.

Basquiat’s impact as an artist transcends his brief time on Earth, as he continues to inspire future generations with his profound artistic vision and instantly recognizable persona. Basquiat’s vast body of work is timeless, not only as African American art but as world art.

About Eminence Rise Media

Eminence Rise Media is a prominent public relations company based in New York, New York. The company’s services are designed to elevate brand visibility, ensuring broad coverage, and providing valuable insights into your branding message. For further details, please visit

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