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Kenny Scharf’s Warm Fuzzy Advice, More Chill than Warhol

April 29, 2010

At MOMA, the New York premiere of  director Tamra Davis’ “Radiant Child,” her documentary of painter Jean Michel Basquiat, Kenny Scharf talks about how not only sticks and stones can kill you. (L-R: Director Tamra Davis, Fab Five Freddy, and painter Kenny Scharf)

Basquiat, who shot to fame in the Eighties first as a graffiti artist called SAMO (pronounced SAME-OH), then an incredible scrawler, died from a heroin overdose. The documentary “Radiant Child”  indicates that his sensitive nature proved ill prepared for fast fame. One minute he pocketed a few million and had Warhol’s Factory at his feet. In the next, outside the art world, regular Joes  and taxi drivers paid him no mind, they drove by (racial profiling.)Basquiat himself is filmed saying  that most people saw him as “a wild monkey man.”

Julian Schnabel gave his two cents on the record: “He didn’t have the tools to navigate the sea of shit.”  What sea of shit: fame, fake friends, his own personal demons, drugs, or the media, remains up for debate.

Just remember Warhol’s mantra: It doesn’t matter if they talk bad about you, just that they talk about you.

Personally, I think it’s best when you don’t care  if they talk at all.

That’s what I call  freedom.

**All text and video by Susan M. Kirschbaum

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