I’m very keen on art and art history. I’m very interested in art of different styles and genres. Paintings, sculptures, videos, installations, happenings… the list is endless. It doesn’t mean I appreciate any kind of art, I’m just very curious about it and try to understand why and what for this or that piece of art has been created. That’s why I’m very obsessed with movies about art and famous artists. They are only fictions mainly and sometimes the events of the film can differ from actual events. Anyway many of them are just excellent in depicting an artist’s life style, attitude and relations with other people.
So in my post I would like to share my two favorite films about my favorite artist. Here we are.
My favorite artist among others is Jean-Michel Basquiat. I admire his style and his attitude to life. He was very different as well as his artistic style. Actually he is recognized as one of the leading Neo-expressionists painter of the 1980s.
There are two movies devoted to his life. The first one is Basquiat (1996) by Julian Schnabel. It is a fiction starring David Bowie and Benicio del Toro. Schnabel tried to be as close to actual events as possible. He depicted Basquiat’s life from his early career to his last days.
Basquiat started his career as a graffiti artist leaving spray graffiti with SAMO signature. These graffiti was collaborative. He worked along with his friend Al Diaz. Their graffiti differed from regular street art. Actually these graffiti were messages while usually street artists left simply paintings on buildings and trains. Many wanted to know who was actual SAMO and could hardly imagine that he was a poor guy leaving on Brooklyn streets.
When he revealed his personality Basquiat became very popular among New York artists. He even managed to attract Andy Warhol attention who was by the way the leading painter and filmmaker at the time. Suddenly Basquiat became rich, famous and very successful. He didn’t have money to buy some food, he didn’t have a place to live, actually he had nothing except he talent and willingness to get publicity. And he got it. But he lost many friends because he became very arrogant and prefer to keep in touch with more influential people. He was young and obviously he wasn’t ready to all these changes in his life. All these events were very stressful. At first it was just a fun, then he felt tired from all the parties and be-ins.
Basquiat was very industrious guy, he devoted all his time and energy to painting. But he needed to relax somehow. The way he chose was wrong. He started to use drugs. Some assume that the drugs influenced him and his style of painting, ostensibly that’s why he created in such unusual and expressive way. Whatever they say I don’t care.
Basquiat died of a heroin overdose at the age of 27 years old. He was young and by the time he created lot of wonderful paintings.
Julian Schnabel depicted all the key event of his life in the movie. But if you are really interested in Basquiat’s life and works then I advise you to watch documentary Radiant Child by Tamra Davis who shot Basquiat during 1980. Davis kept footage for a long period of time and finally she revealed it in 2010. This documentary is just perfect depicting artist’s personality and the time when he lived. There are lots of interviews with other people who have known Basquiat. It is worth seeing for all who are interested in postmodernism and New York art scene of the 1980s.