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Basquiat (1996)

R  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  9 August 1996 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 14,927 users   Metascore: 65/100
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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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Title: Basquiat (1996)

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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?


The estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat refused to allow his works to be used, so the director, Julian Schnabel, personally painted the reproductions which are used throughout the film. See more »


When Basquiat is painting on the floor in his studio, part of the painting in the upper-left hand corner disappears and reappears. 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 unrecognized genius slaving away in a garot is 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 ...
See more »

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 »


Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Werewolf (1998) 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

I think this film is great
4 June 2003 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

I thought this film captured the feel of SoHo and the downtown art scene in 1980's NYC. (I lived in NYC from 1986 until 2001.) I really like the untethered, free-spirited, and dangerous elements of Basquiat's character. The movie doesn't fit into the film school model of a perfectly constructed piece, but I find that appealling; the film is artful and enjoyable. I watch it whenever it shows up on one of the film channels unedited and uninterrupted. Hope you enjoy it as well.

30 of 41 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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