There’s little doubt that Jean-Michel Basquiat’s brief whirlwind of an existence is his best-known masterpiece. Hence the ease with which his close friend Julian Schnabel portrayed the artist’s life story in the 1996 bio-pic Basquiat.
But though the superficial buzz that hung over him — from his first headline show in 1981 to his spoiled and depressed heroin-abusing Armani-suit days — is adequately documented here, it’s the deep reach into his eclectic artistic repertoire that makes Tamra Davis’s captivating portrait glow. Yes, he was a hysterically hyped hipster extraordinaire who rode downtown society to the pinnacle of art-world success.
But Basquiat should be remembered for his work rather than for the fact that Andy Warhol wanted to blow him. By displaying him in this way, in this forum, Davis makes that point in the most subtle way possible.