A rare screening of Julian Schnabel’s cult biopic ‘Basquiat’ will take place in London later this month. The film charts the meteoric rise of neo-expressionist painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, who became an icon of Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the ‘80s before his untimely death in 1988, at the age of 27.
Basquiat first achieved prominence in 1978 after The Village Voice disclosed that he was one of two men behind the subversive graffiti tag ‘SAMO’, which had been widely documented around Manhattan’s urban areas. Barely a year later, the 20-year-old artist would cement the foundation of a long-standing relationship with pop art icon Andy Warhol after encountering him in a New York restaurant and convincing him to purchase a postcard he had designed.
Basquiat was homeless for much of his early career — and despite having no funds to purchase canvasses he would work incessantly by painting on doors, briefcases, walls and floors. He appeared as a DJ in the 1981 video for ‘Rapture’ by Blondie, and dated pop singer Madonna around the same period while working alongside friends including Keith Haring and Warhol. In 2017, three decades after his passing, an untitled 1982 Basquiat painting sold for $110.5m, becoming one of the most expensive paintings ever purchased.
Schabel’s 1996 film features a star-studded cast: including Gary Oldman, Christopher Walken, Dennis Hopper, Willem Dafoe and Benicio Del Toro, as well as David Bowie in the role of Andy Warhol. Equally impressive is the soundtrack, which evokes ‘80s New York through tracks from Grandmaster Flash, Iggy Pop and John Cale, alongside cuts from post-punk pioneers Bush Tetras and Public Image Ltd., and jazz icons Miles Davis and Charlie Parker.
‘Basquiat’ screens at Farr’s, Dalston, on February 28th, 2022.