A Broadway music focused on the life and works of one of the most influential artists of the 20th century is currently in production by Jon Batiste. Batiste, who’s currently the bandleader & musical director for the Late Show With Stephen Colbert, will be showcasing the life of Jean-Michel Basquiat in 1980s New York – from the time he started writing graffiti to the time he became an inspiring figure post-pop art before his works changed the game in the art world.
According to producers Alan D. Marks & Barbara Marks, the show’s development team will be working closely with the Basquiat Estate, and has secured the rights to his artwork and personal archives. Set Tony winner John Doyle will be the director of the piece.
“Over the years, many people have approached us about telling our brother’s story on stage, but having discussed this project with the Marks over many months, our interest was piqued once we understood that their approach to telling our brother’s story treats his life, his art and his legacy with respect and passion,” said Basquiat’s sisters Lisane and Jeanine in a statement. “With Jon Batiste and John Doyle leading the creative team, we are thrilled with the possibilities. We cannot wait to begin the developmental process. Broadway is a new world for us, and we looking forward to sharing our brother’s life and art.”
Basquiat started writing as SAMO with another member in the LES in the late 70s. In the early 80s, his career catapulted to various heights with doing tv appearances and being featured in Blondie’s ‘Rapture‘ video (instead of Grandmaster Flash), doing collaborations with Andy Warhol, having his very first art show with Lee Quinones (The Time Square Show) and then having his work shown internationally in Italy, and plenty more.
His work uses ‘suggestive dichotomies’ like wealth/poverty, intergration/segregation, inner vs outer experience, with social commentary in the pieces to address issues like racism, politics, class struggle, etc.
As reflected in JAY Z & Skyzoo‘s works, Basquiat’s work has managed to have influenced hiphop music. As Detroit’s beatsmith Apollo Brown tells XXL in regards to the song, ‘Basquiat On The Draw’ from the 2016 collabo with Sky on The Easy Truth:
“Jean Michel stayed absolutely true to himself. Just like us, he made the type of art he wanted to make, even if it was the less popular choice at the time. Look at the impact of his work now though! There’s always a niche audience for what you create, and always a group of people who understand your vision. We, as hip hop artists prove this everyday.”
The first reading of the forthcoming production is scheduled for June 24th 2019.