Jean-Michel Basquiat became notorious for his graffiti art in the late 1970s on the Lower East Side scene. I’ve been on Basquiat since the beginning of my blogg’n days. No secret as to why I labeled one of our tags, “SAMO,” Basquiat’s moniker. In his short career, Jean-Michel Basquiat was a phenomenon. Literally making his mark with graffiti on public walls under the nom de plume “Samo” (short for same old thing). It definitely made its mark on me. Debuting at this years Sundance Film Festival, “The Radiant Child” is a film on the legendary art icon Jean-Michel Basquiat.
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.