Basquiat, a Brooklyn native, was a self-taught artist who started his career by selling postcards and sweatshirts with his work on it. He also gained attention from his graffiti, working under the name of “SAMO.” As he gained popularity, he wound up working with Andy Warhol and he later became the youngest artist to display his work at Kestner-Gesellschaft Gallery in Hanover, Germany.
Tanner was the first African American artist to earn international fame through paintings such as “Nicodemus Visiting Jesus” and “The Banjo Lesson.” Although his Episcopal minister father did not fully support his dream in the beginning, Henry continued to follow his dream, eventually moving to Paris and embracing the thriving artistic culture. His works are still prized today.
Johnston was a portraitist in Baltimore from 1790 to 1825 and the first African American to gain credit and recognition for his artistic talents. Johnston, the product of a slave and a slave master, was significantly light-skinned, more than likely aiding in his rise to fame as a successful artist. No record shows that he ever formally learned to paint, but he called himself a “self-taught genius.” Previously enslaved, he was able to gain his freedom in 1782 after completing a blacksmith apprenticeship. Although his work was virtually unknown, in 1939 a genealogist discovered him and his work, bringing his talents back to life