Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child (2010) - Rotten Tomatoes

Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child (2010)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

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 Filmsmore
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Musical & Performing Arts, Documentary
Directed By:
Written By: Tamra Davis
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 9, 2010
Box Office: $0.3M
Arthouse Pictures - Official Site

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Critic Reviews for Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child

All Critics (35) | Top Critics (13)

Tamra Davis's documentary does serve as a worthy companion to Julian Schnabel's 1996 biopic.

Full Review… | October 8, 2010
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

In the end the art must speak for the artist; Davis wisely stands aside and lets the magical images tell their tales.

Full Review… | September 16, 2010
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

A touching portrait that may not be the last word on the painter, but has facts and context to burn.

Full Review… | September 16, 2010
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | September 16, 2010
Boston Globe
Top Critic

[Davis] underplays the place of drugs in the downtown club scene, treating the artist's heroin use as a nearly unaccountable late affliction.

Full Review… | September 2, 2010
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

While it is wonderful to see so many Basquiat paintings, at the film's end the viewer is left feeling complicit in the exploitation.

Full Review… | August 20, 2010
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic

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.

Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Moving documentary about the brightest star of the 1980s art world. Thrives on Tamra Davis's original interviews with Basquiat, and cavalcade of compelling talking heads to help contextualize his greatness.

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