Rene: What is it about art anyway that we give it so much importance? Artists are respected by the poor because what they do is an honest way to get out of the slum using one's sheer self as the medium. The money earned, proof, pure and simple, of the value of that individual, the artist. The picture a mother's son does in jail hangs on her wall as proof that beauty is possible even in the most wretched. And this is a much different idea than fancier notion that art is a scam and a ripoff. But you can never explain to someone who uses God's gift to enslave, that you have used God's gift to be free.
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 contribution to Van Gogh's neglect. No one wants to be part of a generation that ignores another like Van Gogh. In this town, one is at the mercy of the recognition factor. One's public appearance is absolute. Part of the artist's job is to get the work where I will see it. I consider myself a metaphor on the public.
Basquiat: [scrawls onto a pillar] PAY FOR SOUP BUILD A PORT SET THAT ON FIRE -SAMO
The Electrician: I'll be forty in July, and I'm glad I never got recognition. It gives me time to develop.
Basquiat: He says he's jealous of the moon, because you look at it. He's jealous of the sun, because it warms you. He says, "I feel you, even when I'm not feeling you. I talk to you when I'm not talking to you. I love you, even when I'm not loving you."... you know I love you, Gina.
Henry Geldzahler: He used to, Nixon used to have a room at the Waldorf Astoria, but then he moved to Saddle River, New Jersey.
Jack Milo: Saddle River's in New York.
Andy Warhol: I think it's in New Jersey.
Jack Milo: New York.
Andy Warhol: It's... it's in New Jersey.
Jack Milo: Saddle River's in New York!
Basquiat: Ah, piss paint!
Andy Warhol: Not piss paint, Jean, oxidation art!
Basquiat: Ya, I hate cleaning brushes too.
Basquiat: I gotta get out of New York...
Andy Warhol: Hey, we could go to Pittsburgh! I kinda grew up there. They have this room with all the world's famous statues in it, so you don't even have to go to Europe any more... just go to Pittsburgh.
Benny Dalmau: What would you do if I kissed ya?
Gina Cardinale: You're out of your mind Benny. You should take more drugs.
Rene Ricard: When I speak nobody believes me, but when I write it down everybody knows it to be true.
Basquiat: Benny, fuck Hawaii. Let's go to Ireland. We'll stop in every bar and have a drink.
Rene Ricard: We're no longer collecting art; we're buying people.
[Basquiat's first agent on his paintings]
Annina Nosei: This is the true voice of the gutter.
Rene: That's $2000 and he's from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, suck my pussy, you star!
Basquiat: Whoa! Warhol!
Benny Dalmau: That's Andy Warhol...
Benny Dalmau: He's a fuckin' homo.
[Basquiat is nailing one of his pieces to the wall]
Rene: Child, you got no respect at all... nobody taught you how to mount paintings? You know me, when it comes to a mounting, the rougher the better.
Benny Dalmau: Famous people are usually pretty fuckin' stupid. You're too smart. You don't want to end up
Cynthia Kruger: I just don't know if I can live with the green.
Basquiat: You want me to make it a nice shit brown?
Tom Kruger: I beg your pardon. Nobody makes fun of my wife but me.
Rene: I am a public eye, a witness, a critic. When you first see a new picture. You don't want to miss the boat. You have to be very careful. You might be staring at Van Gogh's ear.
Basquiat: Hey Bennie, man, how long you think it takes to get famous?
Benny Dalmau: For a musician or a painter?
Basquiat: Whatever, famous.
Benny Dalmau: Four years. Six to get rich. First you're gonna have to dress right, you know. Then you're gonna have to hang out with famous people, you know. Make friends with the right blonde people. Go to the right parties, yeah? Social life. Then you gotta do your work all the time, and you're not doing that. But I'm talking about the same kind of work, the same style, so people recognize you and don't get confused, you know? Then once you're famous, airborn, you know, you gotta KEEP doing it in the same way even after it's boring, unless you want people to get mad at you. Which they will anyway.