As fickle as the art world is, there are some who can garner its complete embrace—if only for a short while. The new documentary Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child (in limited release 7/21 focuses on such a person.
The film examines the life of painter Jean-Michel Basquiat and his speedy rise and fall amid the New York art scene of the late ’70s and early ’80s. After running away from home at 17, Basquiat lived and painted on the streets of Manhattan, where his neo-Expressionist paintings, at once complex and innocent, took the art world by surprise. Within a few years, he was recognized and rich. Within a few more, isolated and depressed, he would overdose on heroine. Based on footage from a rare 20-minute interview with Basquiat conducted by director Tamra Davis, the film is an intimate portrayal not only of an artist, but of a lost city and an art world whose song was siren.
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