Jean Michel Basquiat was an amazing, yet misunderstood artist. The journey that he took to become famous also took his life at the age of 27. He began as a graffiti artist with the tag-name “SAMO”. His graffiti was well known around the city vagrants and drug addicts, but Basquiat wanted to be known by the people who mattered. He introduced himself to Andy Warhol by selling some art he drew on small cards to Andy’s companion. Basquiat and Warhol became very close later on.
The main theme of this film was Basquiat becoming more and more famous while his relationships with the people who love him collapse. There is also a sense of sadness throughout the entire film. I believe that the sadness radiates from Basquiat’s inner struggle to find a place in the world. This becomes apparent when he paints the tires white. That is the representation of Basquiat feeling like he’s white on the outside and black on the inside. He even refers to himself as “creole” meaning a mix between African and European.
There are a few pieces of symbolism in this film that I found to be very important. The very first piece is the shot of the surfer riding the wave. It symbolizes Basquiat’s grip on reality. Throughout the film the surfer is riding the wave. Finally when Basquiat gets beaten up and Andy Warhol dies, the surfer falls off the wave. That represents the end of Basquiat’s world. He essentially fell off the ride. Another symbol happens when Basquiat meets the character played by Courtney Love. Basquiat goes off with this character while Gina, his girlfriend, stays at home. He takes the other woman’s scarf and brings it home to Gina. He drapes the scarf over Gina’s head. Rather than Gina looking beautiful, she looks like a martyr as she took a sip of the wine she had become dependent on. At the end of the movie after Basquiat has a confrontation with two vagrants. The vagrants do not believe he is Samo. They begin to beat him up and then a...