The brief life of Jean Michel Basquiat, a world renowned New York street artist struggling with fame, drugs and his identity.


Julian Schnabel


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





Cast overview, first billed only:
Jeffrey Wright ... Jean Michel Basquiat
Michael Wincott ... Rene Ricard
Benicio Del Toro ... Benny Dalmau
Claire Forlani ... Gina Cardinale
David Bowie ... Andy Warhol
Dennis Hopper ... Bruno Bischofberger
Gary Oldman ... Albert Milo
Christopher Walken ... The Interviewer
Willem Dafoe ... The Electrician
Jean-Claude La Marre Jean-Claude La Marre ... Shenge (as Jean Claude LaMarre)
Parker Posey ... Mary Boone
Elina Löwensohn ... Annina Nosei
Paul Bartel ... Henry Geldzahler
Courtney Love ... Big Pink
Tatum O'Neal ... 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, Basquiat becomes a star and a part of Andy Warhol's art world circle. But success has a price, and Basquiat pays with friendships, 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 »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Some of the footage that Basquiat is watching on old 8mm film are segments to what would become Scenes from the Life of Andy Warhol: Friendships and Intersections (1982). See more »


When Basquiat barely walks on the street after screaming at the asylum guard, when his younger self is running towards him, the child should disappear behind Basquiat, but you can clearly see his hand behind the main character for a few moments. 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 ...
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 »


Featured in Blurred Lines: Inside the Art World (2017) See more »


April in Paris
Music by Vernon Duke
Lyrics by E.Y. Harburg
Performed by Charlie Parker
Published by Glocca Morra Music c/o The Songwriter's Guild of America/Kay Duke Music
Administered by BMG Songs/Warner Bros. Inc. World outside of U.S.A.
Courtesy of Verve Records
See more »

User Reviews

Interesting Film about the Art World
28 January 2016 | by gaylealstrom-1See all my reviews

If you are a New York art world fanatic, you would probably enjoy this film, but if you care nothing about art or artists, forget it. It's more about Basquiat's drug and personality problems than anything else. He's so bombed out all the time, it's hard to understand how he accomplished as much work as he did. I'm sure Basquiat had a much richer and fuller life than you get from this film. This film won't make you like Basquiat as a person. He didn't come off as a sympathetic character. In almost every scene, he is strung out on drugs to the point, he's barely functioning. It gets to be a little much after awhile. The film did nothing to help me understand his art or help me to appreciate it more, or Warhol's art, who is an accessory to Baquiat in this film. The film is more about Basquiat's social life or lack thereof. I kept thinking throughout the film "Grow up already." The best thing about the film is that it shows how empty success can be. Basquiat chased success as am artist, but when he found it, he didn't find happiness just more emptiness. David Bowie is good as Warhol.

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Official Sites:

Official site




English | Spanish

Release Date:

9 August 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Basquiat See more »


Box Office


$3,300,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$83,863, 11 August 1996

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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