Having recently broken the auction fee record for an artwork made by an American artist – $110.5 million – Jean-Michel Basquiat has cemented his status as one of the most important artists of the 20th century. Before his untimely death in 1988 of a heroin overdose, Basquiat produced hundreds of paintings, drawings and mixed media works. Along with his good friend Keith Haring, Basquiat brought graffiti into galleries, and his bold aesthetic of confident lines, colourful palettes and politicised wordplay is still regarded as one of the most authentic reflections of the fertile and debauched artistic community of 1980s New York City.
Yet most stories about Basquiat’s life only begin once his fame is burgeoning and his paintings already line the Downtown galleries. Filmmaker Sara Driver has remedied this with her documentary, Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat. A friend of Basquiat’s, Driver’s film covers the years from 1978-81, when Basquiat arrived in New York as a homeless teen and honed his artistic talents while partying at the Mudd Club and staying on her friends’ couches. Ahead of the film’s premiere, we spoke about Basquiat’s magnetism, his enduring legacy, and the unwritten rules of 1980s NYC.
Read the interview in Hero Magazine.
[This piece was published on 25/06/18]