Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Basquiat: Une Vie, the film

I have new respect and appreciation for the New york artist, Jean Michel Basquiat  since I came across, Basquiat: une Vie which was done last year for channel 5 Arte, (can be found in English on dvd).

  I was more than ever convinced what an authentic talent of his time this genius really was in a life that  encompassed but 27 years. 

 The film is told from the point of view of people close to Basquiat who saw his transition from graffiti artist , poet and musician ( started the band called "GRay") who had only sold one painting for $200 to being able to command $20,000  the following day after being featured in print for the first time.

Directed by Jean-Michel Vecchiet and produced by PMP penelope polyester films for FRench Tv, the film features footage of Basquiat's SAMO period when he was working only in the street as a tagger.  

Apparently the more recent film called:  Basquiat, a Radiant Child  is more comprehensive but this movie has some new stories and never released videos.

As well as arresting visuals ( and in full color), there is an attempt to interview the artist who is characteristically soft spoken and almost silent but shows his personality by what he doesn't say.

 It is quite annoying to hear an artist over- explaining his work.  I feel that if the work doesn't speak for itself then one should find another medium.  So I was quite tickled when the interviewer asked Basquiat.  Are you angry?  "Yes,"   What makes you angry ?   Long pause, " I forget" he says... and there is  a beautiful slow panning of the artist's enigmatic face.

In this YOu tube clip, Suzanne Mallouk, his girlfriend for several years, explains what went on immediately after his recognition by the art world.  

One of the most touching stories in the film comes from a fellow artist of African origin who was befriended by Basquiat.   Ouattra Watts was an artist working in Paris at the time who had traveled to New Orleans with Basquiat and had plans in place to go to the Ivory Coast with the artist when news reached him of Basquiat's death by overdose.  To see Watts still working as an artist today makes one feel the waste of Basquiat's short life .     Basquiat: Une Vie gives us much to ponder and celebrate.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this post on Jean Michel Basquiat!