Downtown 81

Friday 23 November 2018 - Auditorium

7 p.m.
Jean-Michel Basquiat on the set of Downtown 81
© New York Beat Films LLC. By permission of the Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat
Downtown 81
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Jean-Michel Basquiat on the set of Downtown 81

© New York Beat Films LLC. By permission of the Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat

Shot at the end of 1980, based on a screenplay by Glenn O'Brien, directed by Edo Bertoglio and produced by Maripol, New York Beat celebrates the creative, musical energy of Lower East Side. It was finally released in 2001 under the name Downtown 81. Basquiat plays himself in the film. It was during the weeks of shooting that “SAMO” became Jean-Michel Basquiat. The film will be introduced by Maripol, the producer, who was a close friend of the artist’s. Live musical accompaniment by James Chance and the White.

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat, an American with a Haitian father, gained recognition as an artist in the 1980s. His rise to prominence was swift but his career was cut short.

Between 1977 and 1980 he was a graffiti artist, tagging his mysterious, subversive messages with the name SAMO©. By 1980 he was frequenting artists such as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Francesco Clemente, and abandoned graffiti for painting. Buoyed by the energy of hip hop with its sampling, scratching and DJ culture, his practice drew on many influences such as Picasso, Penck, Schwitters, Dubuffet as well as Cobra movement, jazz and voodoo. His frame of reference expanded to include history and global literature, from Homer to Napoleon and Malcolm X. His style was characterised by a bold and sparing colour palette, and the use of symbols such as the crown and skull, as well as numbers and scientific formulas. Like palimpsests, his works feature layers of drawing, scratches, painting, collages of photocopies and objects. The chaotic complexity of his compositions reveals a spontaneous exuberance and a mastery of different materials and techniques, from acrylic to screen-printing, markers to sprays.

The essential

Friday 23 November 2018
7 p.m. - Auditorium

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