Kelvin Harrison Jr. Starring In Jean-Michel Basquiat Biopic Samo Lives

Kelvin Harrison Jr.

by James White |
Updated on

The life of iconic artist Jean-Michel Basquiat has been brought to life before on screen – most notably in 1996's Basquiat, starring Jeffrey Wright. But Luce director Julius Onah is ready to craft his own take, and he's bringing along one of that film's stars, Kelvin Harrison Jr. to play the man in Samo Lives.

Basquiat was the groundbreaking New York-born, Haitian-Puerto Rican American artist whose seminal paintings and street art defined the Neo-expressionism arts movement of the 1980s. In 1983, he became the youngest artist to exhibit at the Whitney Biennial in New York, at just 22 years old. He died on August 12, 1988 at the age of 27, but his work continues to make a great impact on the art world. At a Sotheby’s auction in 2017, Basquiat’s painting “Untitled” sold for $110.5 million, becoming one of the most expensive paintings ever purchased and subsequently raising the bar for an American artist at auction.

"Jean-Michel Basquiat redefined the idea of who ascends to the highest altitudes of the fine art world," says Onah in a statement. "But the complexity and richness of his experience as an artist and child of the African diaspora has yet to be dramatized in the manner it deserves. It’s an honor to work with Kelvin and my collaborators, and with Endeavor Content, to celebrate the legacy of an artist who has invited audiences everywhere to be inspired by the transformative power of art." You can read more here.

Onah, who co-wrote the script with Peter Glanz, is looking to start shooting in the autumn. Harrison, meanwhile, will next be seen in Joe Wright's musical Cyrano, which has just shifted its UK release back to 25 February because of the current Omicron situation.

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