Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child (2010)
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 $200, 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. --© Arthouse Films … More
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Critic Reviews for Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child
Tamra Davis's documentary does serve as a worthy companion to Julian Schnabel's 1996 biopic.
In the end the art must speak for the artist; Davis wisely stands aside and lets the magical images tell their tales.
A touching portrait that may not be the last word on the painter, but has facts and context to burn.
The intimate, home video footage -- which has never been shown -- feels poignant, a throwback to Basquiat's early days on the New York scene when he got by on his good looks, an elusive inner confidence, and the generosity of others.
[Davis] underplays the place of drugs in the downtown club scene, treating the artist's heroin use as a nearly unaccountable late affliction.
While it is wonderful to see so many Basquiat paintings, at the film's end the viewer is left feeling complicit in the exploitation.
What may convince viewers of the quality of the art and the genius of its creator is the barrage of so many paintings, flashing each briefly before the eyes.
Basquiat appears to be a slippery subject, not unlike Bob Dylan, who is very difficult to decipher.
[Director Tamra Davis] uses [a rare] interview as the foundation for an eye-opening look at Basquiat?s meteoric career ? and how art, fame, drugs and media collided in this one young man?s life.
When you see J-M's works next to Da Vinci, Picasso and Grey's Anatomy, you can see their influence, but their ideas take on new tone, texture and style under Basquiat's brush.
It's not an easy thing to actually give a sense of a person in a documentary, but Radiant Child pulls it off.
Finally, a film about an artist acknowledges that the art is what's important.
...may not be a well-rounded portrait of the man, but it's a powerful look at the artist.
Fame ultimately wore him down, but we can see Basquiat's influence all around us, on factory walls, in museums, and in Ms. Davis' adoring doc.
A lively and persuasive look at the artist's life, oeuvre, and impact.
An absorbing but fawning documentary about doomed artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, built around an old, never-before-seen interview with him.
Will likely go down as the definitive account of a too-brief career and life...(The film) is fast-moving without sacrificing depth or detail.
What really sets this superb documentary apart is its filmic vibrance: it practically pulsates with a captivating energy that's lacking in the genre all too frequently.
Audience Reviews for Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child
Up until now, I knew little about Jean-Michel Basquiat, even though I remember the biopic which had been made about his life and have not seen.(That having been said, David Bowie as Andy Warhol? Really?) That all changes with Tamra Davis' fascinating documentary "The Radiant Child" wherein she adds interview footage she had shot of Basquiat to more recent footage of friends and lovers talking about his life and work. So, not only does a personal portrait form but also an artistic one of a street artist once referred to Sam-O with a wordy style that never quite fades. He is noticed and given and takes full opportunity of a chance to create more permanent artwork with influences from a medical textbook, pop culture and William Burroughs which formed paintings that would become very popular, influential and expensive. The documentary starts around 1980 in New York City at a time of cheap rents that benefited the art scene where anybody could have his artwork displayed that makes Basquiat's rise possible, followed by a complete reversal to a top down art world that ends up destroying him.More
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