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Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child2010

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  • 4.6
In his short career, Jean-Michel Basquiat was a phenomenon. He became notorious for his graffiti art under the moniker Samo in the late 1970s on the Lower East Side scene, sold his first painting to Deborah Harry for two hundred dollars and became best friends with Andy Warhol. Appreciated by both the art cognoscenti and the public, Basquiat was launched into international stardom. However, soon his cult status began to override the art that had made him famous in the first place. Director Tamra Davis pays homage to her friend in this definitive documentary, but also delves into Basquiat as an iconoclast. His dense, bebop-influenced neoexpressionist work emerged while minimalist, conceptual art was the fad; as a successful black artist, he was constantly confronted by racism and misconceptions. Much can be gleaned from insider interviews and archival footage, but it is Basquiat's own words and work that powerfully convey the mystique and allure of both the artist and the man. Featuring interviews with Julian Schnabel, Larry Gagosian, Bruno Bischofberger, Tony Shafrazi, Fab 5 Freddy, Jeffrey Deitch, Glenn O'Brien, Maripol, Kai Eric, Nicholas Taylor, Fred Hoffmann, Michael Holman, Diego Cortez, Annina Nosei, Suzanne Mallouk and Rene Ricard, among many others.

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2 members like this review

absolutely beautiful. the politics are superb, really grateful for this film.

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Member Reviews (7)

absolutely beautiful. the politics are superb, really grateful for this film.

2 members like this review
top reviewer

love it love his work so glad he happened_so glad for the work he made_Hilton Kramer is a conservative asshole_Jean-MIchel lives on_he's more important today !!!

Gorgeous film and tremendous Basquiat! Absolutely love it!

Great documentary! Repeats itself in some places, and at the end of its runtime we still don't have much insight into Basquiat's enigmatic mind (did anyone ever?), but it's a great primer on his artwork. There's an excellent sequence midway through where elements of his paintings are traced back to their inspirations and we get to see side-by-side comparisons that really shed a lot of light on his dense, hyper-referential style.

One of the most influential artists, potentially one of the last as well, if Warhol was the 'death' of art, Basquiat was its final breaths, the last beats of a dying culture that would be resurrected again and again.

Pure tragedy. So young and so brilliant, finding no true relationship but with his art, he was destined to burn up and nod off.