Release date:July 21, 2010
Filmmaker Tamra Davis charts the meteoric rise and fall of her late friend, the painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, born in 1960. In the crime-ridden New York City of the 1970s, he covers the city with the graffiti tag SAMO. In 1981 he puts paint on canvas for the first time, and by 1983 he is an artist with "rock star status." In 1985 he and Andy Warhol become close friends and painting collaborators, but they part ways and Warhol dies suddenly in 1987. Basquiat’s heroin addiction worsens, and, tragically, he dies of an overdose in 1988. The artist was 25 years old at the height of his career, and today his canvases sell for more than a million dollars. With compassion and insight, Tamra Davis details the mysteries that surround this charismatic young man, a painter of enormous talent whose fortunes mirrored the rollercoaster quality of the downtown scene he seemed to embody. Combining never-before-seen interview footage of Basquiat with commentary from friends and art-world luminaries, the film offers a moving portrait of one of the leading lights of late 20th century art.