Jean Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child

Jean Michel Basquiat.  You’ve heard the name before.  Hopefully.  If you haven’t, he’s, or at least he was, a super popular artist and general culture figure of the eighties.  His paintings, sold for massive amounts of money, and he rolled in the hippest of crowds during his time in New York as a young man.  He rolled with Madonna, Keith Haring, and Andy Warhol, while living and hanging out in the same Manhattan, Bowery neighborhood as my current art professor and advisor at school.  He rose to fame and infamy quickly as the first and really only black art superstar ever.  But as occurs often with prodigies such as Jean Michel, he had a very troubled personal life, and indulged in a drug fueled lifestyle that eventually brought about his demise in due to an overdose of heroin in 1988.  In recent months, he’s served as a major personal inspiration in my own art, as well as given me much food for thought.

The Radiant Child is a documentary directed by film maker Tamra Davis, who was a personal friend of Basquiat’s.  She compiled a massive amount of previously unreleased footage of the artist, and put it into this film, which was released earlier this year at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival to excellent reviews.  I haven’t seen the film yet, but I definitely am looking forward to viewing it sometime in the near future.  I recommend you do the same.  Oh!  And hopefully you enjoy the music selection that the trailer is set to!  It’s a song titled “Salt Peanuts.”  I’m not sure if this version is the Charlie Parker or the Dizzy Gillespie rendition, but either is equally excellent.  JMB himself was a massive fan of bebop, and especially of Charlie Parker.  I myself have started to listen to and enjoy this brilliant brand of jazz myself, due to the artist and because of some exposure I’m getting to it through a course of American pop music that I’m currently taking at school.  It’s amazing how different influences can come together and meet in the middle sometimes in life.

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