Though there were trying situations from his early childhood onward, he managed to find the most appropriate ways to counter them and to be exact in his road to fame. He painted as an artist who never bothered of restrictions and he had nothing to lose. Basquiat fought against many distressing situations in his life and rose to attain recognition by the year 1980 through 'The Times Square Show'. He collaborated with many artists of his time, including art-writers, curators, and collectors, to form a group which later came to be called as the Neo-expressionist movement. Though the painter developed to be one of the most realized artists of his time, his friends were worried about his extreme drug consumption, unpredictable behavior etc. Before he died at his 27 due to mixed-drug toxicity, he had achieved significant recognition. For a complete understanding of the life and artistic works of Basquiat, it is pivotal to depend on the authentic bibliography on him. However, the value of the visual means along with the written word cannot be overlooked. In fact, the visual media has been able to offer a greater awareness of Basquiat's life. Therefore, though Basquiat has been memorialized through the biopic in 1996 by Julian Schnabel as well as the best selling biography of Basquiat by Phoebe Hoban in 1998, the former has a greater value to the audience as it offers a complete picture of the life of the artist through various aspects such as music and the sound effects, the effect of acting, and the other visual effects. This paper deals with a comparison between the reading and the film in order to suggest why the visual representation has a superior validity in understanding the life of Basquiat.
Through his biography of Basquiat, Phoebe Hoban was able to create a true picture of the artist's life, but it was never a complete picture to the readers, as many often he failed to relate to the powerful emotion of the readers. Basquiat is represented as the most notorious artist who failed to accomplish his goals. Hoban presents the life of this great artist as cashed in on both fame and greed which were the characteristics of the 1980s. "Basquiat's life spanned an historic shift in the art world, from Pop to Neo-Expressionism, from hip to hype." (Hoban) To the biographer, graffiti was only the beginning for the painter and he soon involved with a New York scene which considered art as an element of the whole array of media. "'Artists were mixing up their media,' Phoebe Hoban suggests, and 'music film, painting and fashion were recombining in innovative ways' at the end of 1970s and early 1980s." (Thompson, 68) According to Hoban, Basquiat's stylistic qualities are part of established African-American aesthetic traditions. The biography of Basquiat suggests why the artist was able to accomplish as a great painter. Accordingly, his contemporary world as well as the subsequent periods failed to recognize the "qualities in Basquiat's paintings and to concentrate instead'on his celebrity lifestyle'" (Thompson, 69) Similarly, the art movement of the time also failed to achieve a significant impact on the scenario. The biography Basquiat by Hoban,