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INDEPENDENT LENS: Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child

Airs Sunday, April 17, 2011 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Jean-Michel Basquiat, a young artist who revolutionized the New York art scene almost overnight.

Centered on a rare interview that director and friend Tamra Davis shot with Jean-Michel Basquiat more than 20 years ago, this film chronicles the meteoric rise and fall of the young artist.

Jean-Michel Basquiat painting a canvas.
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Above: Jean-Michel Basquiat painting a canvas.

In the crime-ridden New York City of the 1970s, he covers the city with the graffiti tag 'SAMO.' In 1981 he puts paint on canvas for the first time, and by 1983 he is an artist with "rock star status." He achieves critical and commercial success, though he is constantly confronted by racism from his peers.

In 1985, he and Andy Warhol become close friends and painting collaborators, but they part ways and Warhol dies suddenly in 1987. Basquiat's heroin addiction worsens, and he dies of an overdose in 1988 at the age of 27. The artist was 25 years old at the height of his career, and today his canvases sell for more than a million dollars.

"Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child" is on Facebook.

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Preview: Independent Lens: Jean-Michel Basquiat

Above: In his short career, Jean-Michel Basquiat was a wunderkind and a phenomenon. Discovered through for his graffiti art in the late 1970s on the Lower East Side, he sold his first painting to Deborah Harry for $200, and later became best friends with Andy Warhol. Director Tamra Davis pays homage to her friend in a definitive documentary titled "Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child."

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Video Excerpt: Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child

Above: Jean-Michel Basquiat had a special talent for taking "street energies" and making them into high art. During his short career, Basquiat was a wunderkind and a phenomenon. Discovered through for his graffiti art in the late 1970s on the Lower East Side, he sold his first painting to Deborah Harry for $200, and later became best friends with Andy Warhol. Director Tamra Davis pays homage to her friend in this documentary titled "Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child."

Video

Video Excerpt: Independent Lens:: Jean-Michel Basquiat

Above: With success came celebrity, which both defined and overwhelmed Jean-Michel Basquiat. During his short career, Basquiat was a wunderkind and a phenomenon. Discovered through for his graffiti art in the late 1970s on the Lower East Side, he sold his first painting to Deborah Harry for $200, and later became best friends with Andy Warhol.

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