Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child
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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. 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.
Movie Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes
- Reviews Counted: 33
- Fresh: 28
- Rotten: 5
- Average Rating: 7.4/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Fresh: If The Radiant Child embellishes the legend in a hundred small ways, its cleverest maneuver is to keep its subject at enough of a remove to enhance his mystique.
Fresh: Tamra Davis' labor of love... is a tender ode from one friend to another, but it's also another wheel in the hype machine that persists around the late, famed painter who blew apart the art scene in the 1980s.
Fresh: Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child is a remarkably rich documentary possessing depth, range, insight and compassion.
Rotten: [Davis] underplays the place of drugs in the downtown club scene, treating the artist's heroin use as a nearly unaccountable late affliction.
The Radiant Child
I've seen all the movies and documentaries about Basquiat and seems to me that this one could be the better. I think that Shnabel made an excelent job with his movie putting together a lot of details about Basquiat that now (in this movie) I can see that all of them were truth. This guy was so productive and obssesive with his work and so talented.
The cover of this doc is a painting currently being shown in San Diego, CA at the MCASD. Informative, but did seem to downplay his drug use. Could've gone into more detail about his life.
A youth ahead of this time & in Madonnas words "too fragile for this world," Basquiat exhibited a passion and style that set those of his time uneasy. 20 years later and his work is still becoming realized as one of the most poignant of our time. An advanced and contemporary time engulfed in fame that arrived too fast, at a time no one cared to understand this film is the perfect frame for the portrait of a man who's complexities made for an aura that could never again walk this earth. After alll, no one loves a genius child.