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  • December 31, 1969 | 7:00 PM
    December 31, 1969
    7:00 PM

Day 30: Jean-Michel Basquiat

In 1981, Jean-Michael Basquiat and Michael Holman formed the industrial art-rock group, Gray. The two met in April 1979 at “The Canal Zone” party. Other members included Nick Taylor, Wayne Clifford, Shannon Dawson, and Vincent Gallo. Basquiat got the band’s name from the medical reference text Gray’s Anatomy, a touchstone of his later visual works. Gray performed at such legendary 1980s New York haunts as CBGB’s, the Mudd Club, and Hurrah’s. 

During Basquiat’s tenure with the Gray, it never released a full-length album. Still some of its music appeared in cult films like Downtown 81 (starring Basquiat); a BBC documentary, Shooting Star; and the British television show, Without Walls. Nearly three decades after Basquiat’s death in 1988, a reunited Gray finally released its debut disc, Shades Of. . . (Plush Shades Records) in February 2011. The disc features many songs co-written by Basquiat including “Suicide Hotline,” a haunting piece in which Basquiat calls a suicide hotline and reads excerpts of his poetry to the operator.


If Jean-Michel Basquiat were still alive, what music do you think he would be most likely to explore as an artist?

Jean-Michel Basquiat Poll

30 Americans is organized by the Rubell Family Collection, Miami. The presenting sponsor at the Corcoran Gallery of Art is Altria Group.

Additional support has been provided by Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

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