Basquiat (1996)

R  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  9 August 1996 (USA)
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Basquiat tells the story of the meteoric rise of youthful artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Starting out as a street artist, living in Thompkins Square Park in a cardboard box, Jean-Michel is "... See full summary »



(story) (as Lech J. Majewski) , (short story) (as John F. Bowe) , 2 more credits »
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2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jean-Claude La Marre ...
Shenge (as Jean Claude LaMarre)
Elina Löwensohn ...
Annina Nosei
Cynthia Kruger


Basquiat tells the story of the meteoric rise of youthful artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Starting out as a street artist, living in Thompkins Square Park in a cardboard box, Jean-Michel is "discovered" by Andy Warhol's art world and becomes a star. But success has a high price, and Basquiat pays with friendship, love, and eventually, his life. Written by Martin Lewison <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In 1981, A Nineteen-Year-Old Unknown Graffiti Writer Took The New York Art World By Storm. The Rest Is Art History.


Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for drug use and strong language | See all certifications »


Official Sites:




Release Date:

9 August 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Build a Fort, Set It on Fire  »

Box Office


$3,300,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$83,863 (USA) (9 August 1996)


ITL 780,048,000 (Italy) (6 June 1997)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Chris Rock was considered for the role of Basquiat. According to Rock, he was not interested in the role because, at the time, he did not know who Basquiat was. See more »


The closing credits states that Basquiat died on October 12, 1988. The real date is August 12, 1988. See more »


[first lines]
Rene: Everybody wants to get on the Van Gogh boat. There's no trip so horrible that someone won't take it. The idea of the unrecognised genius slaving away in a garret is a deliciously foolish one. We must credit the life of Vincent Van Gogh for really sending this myth into orbit. I mean, how many pictures did he sell, one? He couldn't give them away. He has to be the most modern artist, but everybody hated him. He was so ashamed of his life that the rest of our history will be ...
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Crazy Credits

At the very end of the credits, a short clip showing a surfer riding on a wave is displayed. It's very similar to the surfing/wave shots that Basquiat keeps seeing whenever he looks up to the sky during the movie, but it's in full color instead of being blue-tinted. See more »


Features Downtown 81 (1981) See more »


Summer in Siam
Performed by The Pogues
Written by Shane MacGowan
Published by Perfect Songs/MacGowan Music/SPZ Music, Inc.
Courtesy of Warner Music UK Ltd.
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

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User Reviews

Fascinating look at New York art world
18 March 1999 | by (Brooklyn, NY) – See all my reviews

I'm a sucker for movies set in New York City, which is one reason I decided to see this, that and the supporting cast. I don't know much about Basquiat, his life or work, so I don't know how accurate the movie is, nor do I know much about art, but this film drew me in. I know the film was made by a friend and compatriot of Basquiat, Julian Schnabel, and if there's a weakness, it's that sometimes we feel this is an inside job. Nevertheless, we do go inside the art world, get to know about graffiti, and we get to understand what makes Basquiat tick. I also thought Jeffrey Wright was good in the title role. The supporting cast were all first-rate as well.

19 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
He's an *beep* and not a very good artist. kriderthewriter
why did Basquiat pay for the guys laughing at him? dinokashani
Incredible cast. EsWarEinmal
The misinterpretation.. Onetokeover
piano music help maxusII
HELP Basquiat song needed.. LaunchpadMcQuack
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