Painter Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–1988) is regarded as one of the most important artists of his generation. Criticism of Basquiat’s work, however, continues to be focused on how his life shaped his art, and how his work was influenced by the Euro-American male artistic canon and/or the Afro-diasporic cultural context. Yet throughout Basquiat’s career, he repeatedly said that his art came from his mother, Matilde Andrades. Frances Negrón-Muntaner will explore the meanings of Basquiat’s assertion in her article, while raising questions about artistic influence and how artistic bonds can be produced between generations of Afro-Caribbean peoples in New York. For instance: How can one account for familial influence on art? What are the relationships and hierarchies of influence and how do these shape reception? That is, why would Cy Twombly constitute a more important influence than Matilde Andrades? Is the main purpose of pointing to influences to reproduce the artistic canon?

Frances Negrón-Muntaner is a filmmaker, writer, and scholar. Among her books are the CHOICE Award-winning Boricua Pop: Puerto Ricans and the Latinization of American Culture (NYU Press, 2004), and Sovereign Acts (South End Press, 2011). Her films include AIDS in the Barrio (1989), Brincando el charco: Portrait of a Puerto Rican (1995), War in Guam, and The Bigness of Small. In 2005, she was named one of the most influential Hispanics by Hispanic Business Magazine and, in 2008, the United Nations’ Rapid Response Media Mechanism recognized her as a global expert in the areas of mass media and Latin/o American studies. In 2012, she received Columbia University’s Most Distinguished Faculty Award. Negrón-Muntaner is the director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race and co-founder/co-curator of the Latino Arts and Activism Archive at Columbia University.