Andy Warhol (1928-1987). As a preeminent American artist of the 20th century, Andy Warhol challenged the world to see art differently. Warhol, born in Pittsburgh the son of working-class immigrant parents, studied pictorial design at Carnegie Institute of Technology. Upon graduation he established himself in New York City where he quickly achieved success as an illustrator, receiving various awards, and accepting assignments from notable clients including Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and The New Yorker. With the arrival of the turbulent 1960s Warhol reinvented himself as an artist that boldly defied convention. He is heralded as one of the defining artists of the Pop art movement. Further, his nonconformity and unbounded creativity resulted in his recognition as one of the most influential avant-garde filmmakers of his generation. He founded Interview magazine in 1969, produced and managed The Velvet Underground, authored numerous books, directed music videos, and hosted his own talk show on MTV in addition to countless other creative endeavors. Now, more than 30 years after his death, Andy Warhol remains one of the most influential creative thinkers worldwide thanks to his enduring legacy. Following his untimely death in 1987, a charitable foundation was established in accordance with his will. Today, The Andy Warhol Foundation is widely recognized as a leader in contemporary art funding having distributed over $200 million in cash grants to advance the visual arts.
Jean Michel Basquiat (1960-1988). One of the great visual artists of the second half of the 20th century was born and raised in Brooklyn. He first gained fame as a graffiti artist, tagging with a partner under the name SAMO, and his major breakthrough as a painter came in 1981 at a group show in New York City. Basquiat was originally seen as being part of New York's "neo-expressionist" movement, but his distinct and highly individualistic approach to making art defied categorization. In a relatively short space of time, his work became highly sought after by collectors, exhibited in the United States and Europe, and he somewhat reluctantly became the new face of the city's thriving 1980s art scene. In the same period, other artists, including Andy Warhol, with whom he made several collaborative works, befriended him. His reputation as a major artist and boundary-breaking cultural figure continued to grow after his untimely death at the age of 27. In 1992 a major retrospective of his work was shown at the Whitney Museum, and in 2017 the Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa bought Basquiat's Untitled (1982) at Sotheby's for $110.5 million. This set a new record for the highest price ever paid at auction for an American artist's work.