In his short life, Jean-Michel Basquiat was an international superstar in the art scene and pop-culture, creating thousands of paintings, dating Madonna, befriending and collaborating with Andy Warhol, walking on the runway for Comme des Garcons, and appearing in a Debbie Harry video. He became notorious for his graffiti art under the moniker Samo in the late 1970s on the Lower East Side scene. Appreciated by both the art cognoscenti and the public at large, Basquiat was an international star.
Directed by Basquiat’s friend and filmmaker, Tamra Davis (Billy Madison, Crossroads, Half Baked, CB4, more than a hundred music videos), THE RADIANT CHILD is the definitive documentary on one of the most captivating figures of the contemporary art world. Containing one of the only full-length interviews on film or video Basquiat ever made, the film captures the legendary artist at the height of his career. THE RADIANT CHILD also delves into Basquiat’s life 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.
THE RADIANT CHILD features interviews with several art world luminaries, including Julian Schnabel, Larry Gagosian, Tony Shafrazi, Jeffrey Deitch, Kenny Scharf, Annina Nosei, Diego Cortez and Rene Ricard, and his devoted friends, Suzanne Mallouk and Fab 5 Freddy – among many others. The film also features original music by Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz from the Beastie Boys and animation and motion graphics by Shepard Fairey and Studio No. 1. With compassion and psychological insight, Davis details the mysteries that surround this charismatic young man, an artist of enormous talent whose fortunes mirrored the rollercoaster quality of the downtown scene he embodied.
Interview with the director
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