The CCBB is the cultural centre of the Bank of Brazil, one of four centres in four cities: Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and the capital Brasilia. The one in Sao Paulo is one of the oldest buildings in the city, built at the beginning of twentieth century it is located right at the centre of the old town, at the corner of two streets, Rua Álvares Penteado and Rua da Quitanda. It was the building of the bank for almost seventy years, was then converted to a public cultural center. The exhibitors are free of charge.
The interior of the building is turned into 1950s New York, neon lights, pictures, and Jean Michel Basquiat’s paintings. Jean Michel Basquiat is considered one of the most important artists of the second half of the 20th century. The Afro-American painter worked during late 70s, early 80s and he reflected the sounds, colours, the energy of the city with his wall paintings or cryptic writings (though he never defined himself as a graffiti artist). In his work the character of New York was personified.
He arose under the pseudonym SAMO, in 1977, writing critical and poetic phrases on walls in Manhattan.
At the entrance to the most trendy nightclubs, outside the most interesting galleries, you would find that SAMO had been there, leaving his mark. His deeply political art raised awareness in regard to blackness. He portrayed black people from different walks of life: jazz musicians, boxers and revolutionary heroes.
Art critics classified his work as an example of neoexpressionism, combining multiple elements such as words, şmages, objects. His works were exhibited in the most important art galleries. He died tragically at the age of 27, from a drug overdose. He said: “Believe it or not but I can really draw. I try to fight against that usually.”