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SAMO© -The SAMO Graffiti appeared in New York at the end of the Seventies and begining of the Eighties, in two phases. The second phase was solo work by Jean-Michel Basquiat. The first phase was an anonymous effort by the team of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Al Diaz.

Born in Brooklyn to a Puerto-Rican mother and a Haitian-American father, Jean-Michel was interested in drawing and painting from an early age, enjoying visits to the Museum of Modern Art or the Brooklyn Museum with his parents. His mother, Matilde, taught him English, Spanish and French. “Basquiat's mother was from Puerto Rico. Exotic and cultivated, she spoke French, Spanish and English and took her son to theater and museums.” (NYTimes, 1998) After his parents got divorced, the family fell apart. Jean-Michel dropped out of high school and left his parent's house one year before graduating in 1978.

Al Diaz was a graffiti veteran, having had a tag published in a book on graffiti (text by Norman Mailer) in 1974. Diaz lived in the Jacob Riis Housing Projects in 454 East 10th Street and attended City As School High School, a leader in the alternative schools movement geared towards individuals who have not met with success in the traditional classroom setting. In sync with the school’s mission of “Bringing Students from the Margin to the Mainstream” this is where Diaz met fellow student, Basquiat and came up with the initial idea of their joined enterprise.

Beginning in 1976, they began spray-painting graffiti on buildings in Lower Manhattan, under SAMO© which stands for “same old shit,”. The designs inscribed messages and aphorisms such as "SAMO as an alternative 2 “”playing art” with the “radical chic" sect on daddy$ funds 4 U” and "SAMO as an escape clause." SOHO, the art world, and Yuppies were satirized with wit. The Site-specific collective graffiti employed anonymity to seem corporate and engulfing.. The implication was that SAMO© was a drug that could solve all problems. On December 11, 1978, the Village Voice published an article about the graffiti. The SAMO project ended with the epitaph "SAMO IS DEAD," inscribed on the walls of SoHo buildings in 1979.

picture gallery:http://www.henryflynt.org/overviews/Samo/viewingsamo.pdf
http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/08/09/reviews/980809.09boswort.html

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