A More Recent 27 Club

Amy Winehouse

Jean-Michel Basquiat


Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison were all musicians who died at the age of 27, often as a result of drug and alcohol abuse and later became known as belonging to the "27 Club."  I'm still a fan of Janis Joplin and was lucky to see her perform in Maryland at the height of her career. I often think about artists like Janis, who gave so much of their soul to their art that it destroyed them.

Amy Winehouse was such an artist. An amazing singer, she had to write her own songs to fully express what she felt. My recent digital illustration of Amy shows how she wore her loves on her heart and on her body (literally). Cynthia was her paternal grandmother and Blake was her husband. Amy died at age 27 of alcohol abuse. 

In December 2015, I went to Art Miami and for the first time saw Jean-Michel Basquiat's paintings in person. WOW! His paintings aren't like any others. He pushed the art of painting to show us how a painting could be, and in each one, shared all sorts of ideas and his life experiences. Most artists work from some source material. But when Jean-Michel worked, he listened to music, referred to many books and magazines, and even kept conversations going with friends in his studio. In my recent digital illustration, I show a painting that Jean-Michel might have done to convey his struggles (as an African American artist) to be accepted in the art world. Even getting a taxi in NYC was not easy for him. When his works started to gain popularity, they sold for $5,000 each, and soon after, for $25,000 each. Basquiat died at age 27, almost 28 years ago, of a heroin overdose. He left behind 1,000 paintings and 1,000 drawings. At Art Miami, the asking price for a large painting: $7.5 Million.  


Marilyn Witkowski