Downtown 81+ Basquiat Rarities

Jean-Michel Basquiat, the artist who preceded his career in the ‘80s art world with a legendary adolesence spent in graffiti, was captured in his prime by director Edo Bertoglio in Downtown 81, a bleeding-edge peek into the early-’80s New York bohemian subculture. As Basquiat creates street art while roaming the avenues of Manhattan, his encounters with luminaries like Fab 5 Freddy, The Sugarhill Gang, Debbie Harry, Jarmusch staple Eszter Balint, photographer/filmmaker Amos Poe and others fairly stagger belief. And, as if that wasn’t incredible already, alongside these impressionistic episodes are blessed post-punk concert interludes featuring DNA, Tuxedomoon, The Plastics, James White and the Blacks, and Kid Creole & The Coconuts. It’s almost as if the directors were worried that the city would be nuked after filming, and this would be its last will and testament! For anyone with any interest in East Coast counterculture of the period, this is a genuine must-see.

Kicking off the evening is Jean-Michel Basquiat at the Fun Gallery, known through a few short, contentious snippets posted on YouTube, and through its fictionalized recreation in Julian Schnabel’s Basquiat bio-pic. Before the feature and the panel, we’ll screen the ten-minute short — and as the closer to the evening, we’ll also screen the complete unedited thirty-minute historic interview from which the short was cut! Co-director Marc H. Miller will also provide historic context for an encounter that captures a lively and provocative 21 year-old Basquiat on the cusp of his art world ascent! Schedules permitting, the evening also features a live panel on the subject of Basquiat’s work featuring artist/Downtown 81 producer Maripol, and Jean-Michel Basquiat at the Fun Gallery co-director Marc H. Miller!

Downtown 81 Dir. Edo Bertoglio, 1981, 35mm, 72 min.

Jean-Michel Basquiat At The Fun Gallery Dirs. Paul Tschinkel & Marc H. Miller, 1982, digital presentation, 10/30 min.

Watch the trailer for “Downtown 81″!

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