Born to a Haitian father and a Puerto Rican mother, Jean-Michel Basquiat went from spraying New York City walls with graffiti tagged “SAMO” in the 1970s, to rock-star status as a painter and celebrity by 1983. He achieved critical and commercial success, but was constantly confronted by racism from his peers. In 1985 he and Andy Warhol became close friends and painting collaborators, until Warhol’s death 1987. One year later, Basquiat died of a heroin overdose at 27.
This intimate documentary is based on an extensive interview director Tamra Davis filmed of Basquiat. Using rare footage and interviews with the likes of Julian Schnabel, Larry Gagosian, Fab 5 Freddy and many others who knew Basquiat, Tamra Davis details the mysteries that surround this charismatic young man, an artist of enormous talent whose fortunes mirrored the rollercoaster quality of the downtown scene he seemed to embody.