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Book Review: Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art by Phoebe Hoban

on November 20, 2023

Book: Hoban, Phoebe. (2016). Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art, 2nd Ed. Open Road Media.

As a lover of Jean-Michel Basquiat's work, I was captivated by Phoebe Hoban's book, Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art. The book presents a vivid portrayal of the young artist's tumultuous and too-short life.

neo-expressionism artist jean-michel basquiat

Drawing on extensive research and interviews, Hoban meticulously reconstructs the rise and fall of the iconic New-Expressionist artist. Her compelling narrative dives deep into the heart of both Basquiat's genius and tragedy.

What struck me most about the book was the moving exploration of Basquiat's inner turmoil and the pressures of fame and addiction that ultimately led to his death at the age of 27. Through Hoban's insightful storytelling, Basquiat emerges as a complex figure, grappling with his identity as a Black artist in a predominantly white art world, while navigating the pitfalls of celebrity culture.

neo-expressionism artist jean-michel basquiat

While some critics have questioned the book's sensationalist tone, I found its approach to strike a balance between honest and empathetic. I also think Hoban effectively illustrates the human behind the myth that is Basquiat.

Overall, Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art is a moving reflection on the intersection of art, fame, and identity that will undoubtedly have a lasting impression on me and anyone who ventures into Basquiat's world.


Pete Stein
Founder, Galerie Stein

Galerie Stein will be presenting several contemporary Abstract Expressionist artists both virtually at and in our gallery in Montreal in 2024.
Contact: Pete Stein at