Basquiat continued to develop new pictorial ideas throughout his short career, but by the mid-1980s he had begun to use heroin, and his energy waned. He alienated close friends, such as Andy Warhol, who were concerned about his drug abuse, and for the first time, he produced some works that appeared unfinished and repetitive.
The news of Warhol's unexpected death in February 1987 profoundly affected Basquiat. He transformed his grief into a burst of creativity, evident in the paintings displayed in this section. Many of these works make explicit, even apocalyptic, references to death. Yet Basquiat was painting with new confidence, maturity, and innovation. The sense of renewed vigor so evident here makes Basquiat's own death of an accidental drug overdose eighteen months later, following an attempt at rehabilitation, all the more tragic.