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.
Curated by Jason Forrest
Total Runtime: 1:33:14
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.
This superb documentary, opening with Tamra's early interviews taped in her California home, reveals the tragically short but meteoric career of this talented, humorous, driven artist of the streets. It's an enlightening revelation of his work and his walk, including historical interviews with and recent reflections of contemporaries, friends and critics. The soundtrack drops you back into the clubs and streets of the time, with scenes syncopated to beats of jazz, early hip hop and pop. Basquiat seemed to have an internal receiver that picked up myriad cultural/racial/sexual revolution vibes from the air around him. He spent his waking hours furiously translating those messages into color and vocabulary on everything and anything around him. Black meets white, history meets contemporary, illiterate meets egalitarian. Clashes and confusion became the prolific stream of dialog for his brush and spray can: ee cummings + Michaelangelo commissioned by God to interpret society on the Vatican walls of Soho. And as the demands began to consume him, the gentle muse slept off into the mist.