Stephan James, Jean-Michel Basquiat
Stephan James, a Canadian actor, will play star artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat, in an up-coming series (left photo by IDMb and right photo courtesy of the Embassy of Haiti)

NEW YORK — A new series about the neo-expressionist painter Jean-Michel Basquiet, whose father was Haitian, will star Stephan James,  according to Deadline magazine, the acting industry outlet.

Basquiat, born in Brooklyn, was the son of Matilde Andradas, of Puerto Rican descent, and Gerard Basquiat, from Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Set in New York City in the 1980s, the series will follow the rise of Basquiat from an unknown graffiti artist to a highly sought painter, whose painting, In This Case, sold for $110 million at auction in 2017. The new show takes place during a significant period in Basquiat’s life, when he opened six solo shows in cities across the world, created over 200 art works and developed the signature imagery of his paintings — a heroic, crowned black oracle figure, according to theArtStory.org.

Basquiat has long been a fascinating figure whose story resurfaces in new films or shows as more of his life and work are explored. Last year, Jay-Z and Beyonce starred in luxury ads featuring this work.

Recently, following a show at the Orlando Museum of Art, the authenticity of 25 paintings that Basquiat created while living in Los Angeles in 1982 was questioned.

James is known for the 2016 film Race, based on the story of Jesse Owens, the legendary athletic superstar The Canadian actor and producer stars in the upcoming drama Beacon 23. He is developing the Basquiat series with Invasion star Shamier Anderson, who will serve as executive producer.

A streaming service for the series has not yet been announced. 

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J.O. Haselhoef is the author of “Give & Take: Doing Our Damnedest NOT to be Another Charity in Haiti.” She co-founded "Yonn Ede Lot" (One Helping Another), a nonprofit that partnered with volunteer groups in La Montagne ("Lamontay"), Haiti from 2007-2013. She writes and lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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