We’ve seen a couple of films about Jean-Michel Basquiat, so we already know the guy was a major bad boy of the art world, and even had white girls like Madonna going crazy over him back in the day. But we didn’t realize quite how bad a*s he was until we saw a clip from the new documentary “Jean-Michel Basquiat” The Radiant Child,” where his old girlfriend reveals how she had to mollywop Madonna over Basquiat — and then he actually dedicated space in a painting to the catfight! Unbelievable. Pop the hood for a look.
Jean-Michel Basquiat is heralded as one of the greatest American artists, only growing more legendary in the years since his premature death in 1988. While there are already several films devoted to his story, the latest, a documentary directed by Tamra Davis (wife of Beastie Boys’ Mike D) “Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child” just had its New York premiere at MoMA during the Tribeca Film Festival.
Davis, who met and befriended Basquiat when he visited LA to exhibit at the Gagosian gallery in 1983, was one of few to document the artist during his lifetime. Profoundly affected by his death, Davis hid her reels for two decades. But in 2005, prompted by a friend working on MOCA’s Basquiat retrospective of that year, Davis returned to her 80s footage to create a short, 20-minute tribute to the artist. “Everybody at the museum flipped out because the footage I had was incredibly rare,” she says. “They said, ‘This is so important! You can’t just keep it in your closet––you have to show this film.” So Davis developed the short into a feature-length documentary with Arthouse Films, Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child, seeking out Basquiat’s contemporaries, friends and admirers, from his longtime girlfriend Suzanne Mallouk to artist Julian Schnabel and early hip-hop maestro Fab Five Freddy. The film documents Basquiat’s transformation from slouching street kid into international art world darling, accompanied by graphic animations by artist Shepard Fairey and a soundtrack from Beastie Boys Adam Horovitz and Mike Diamond and Manhattan-based composer J. Ralph.