11 January 2022

Here’s what we know about new Basquiat biopic: Samo Lives

Production is set to begin later this year…

Who really was Jean-Michel Basquiat? That’s a question that most of us, since the artist’s death in 1988, have been trying to figure out. Efforts to debunk the Basquiat enigma have left us with a wealth of films, books, paintings, clothing, albums and documentaries that give us a fleeting insight into the life of one of the biggest ever names in art. 

Staring at a painting by the American Neo-expressionist artist is like plunging your face into cold water – each time it feels exciting, shocking, and sobering, even if you’ve done it before. And that feeling is covetable, achieved only when lucky enough to see Basquiat’s work close-up in exhibition, or even, have one above your mantlepiece. In 2017, one of the artist’s paintings sold at Sotheby’s for $110.5 million, making it one of the most expensive pieces of art ever. 

Beginning his career working under the name SAMO (Same Old Crap), Basquiat’s life and career quickly sky-rocketed to the success and fame that he claimed he would garner. The artist pushed boundaries, fought against police brutality and racism, befriended Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, dated Madonna, walked for Comme des Garcons, used his interests in mortality and anatomy to construct his distinguishable style, battled with addiction and, when he died at the age of 27 from a heroin overdose, left a long-lasting mark on the world in the shape of self-conjured ambiguity. 

Now, in a new film by director Julius Onah, we’re getting a further look into Basquiat’s life and career. Samo Lives is a biopic that will look deeper into who the artist really was and the impact that he and his work had on the world around him. 

On the website for the upcoming film, Onah says in a statement that it’s time to tell the story of Basquiat: 

“Jean-Michel never sought permission to create his iconic art. And it’s with that same fearlessness SAMO LIVES will be made. All in service of leaving people inspired by the knowledge that ultimately what Jean-Michel’s art has done is remind us that each of our lives and relationships are the greatest work we’ll ever produce.” 

With Kelvin Harrison Jr. (Waves, Monster, Luce) cast as Basquiat himself, and a soundtrack by Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury, Samo Lives will no doubt aim to do necessary justice to an icon that has inspired and shaped the lives of creatives to this day. 

Find out more about Samo Lives here

  • Writer Ry Gavin

Related Content