Michael Holman (filmmaker)

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Michael Holman is an artist, writer, avant-garde musician, hip hop impresario and filmmaker as well as Early 1980s, Downtown Scene "subculturalist" best known as the screenwriter of the film Basquiat, directed by Julian Schnabel and released by Miramax Films, host of the short-lived hip hop music program Graffiti Rock and a founding member, along with Jean-Michel Basquiat, of the experimental rock band Gray. In 2016, Holman's archives were acquired by the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, as well as artifacts from his archives were acquired by the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

As a pioneer in both the downtown New York Art Scene and uptown hip hop, Holman has been a force in contemporary New York culture and art. From being a band mate in an industrial art noise band with painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, to being a journalist, filmmaker, television producer and creative influence in Hip Hop Culture, Holman helped set the stage for a new epoch in world arts and culture.

Holman and Basquiat’s band Gray performed at various, historic venues including Hurrah's, Mudd Club, CBGB and The ICA in London, and recorded music that appeared in films such as “Downtown 81” and “Basquiat.” Holman created installation art at the Mudd Club, notably “The Soul Party” in 1980, and made short art films that premiered at The Mudd Club, Tier Three, The Ritz and other venues.

In the 1990s, Holman and Nicholas Taylor, another, original member of the band Gray, created sonic music performances at clubs such as Club USA, Sybarite, Nuyorican Poets Cafe and The Ritz, where they opened for Todd Rundgren. Since 2011, Holman and Taylor have re-launched Gray, first performing at the New Museum in July, 2011, then in 2012, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Brooklyn Academy of Music with Questlove of The Roots (within Questlove's Shuffle Culture avant-garde show). Gray has become known for performing in art institutions, being that their shows are more than just music, but include light, video and sculpture; truly a fine art, multi-media experience, much like an updated John Cage performance, one of the band's heroes. As a filmmaker, Holman was consulted and credited with story development on the screenplay for the 1996 Miramax feature film “Basquiat,” directed by Julian Schnabel. Holman also wrote, produced and directed Children’s Television programming for the Nickelodeon Network, specifically “Blue’s Clues” and “Eureeka’s Kastle.”

As a Hip Hop impresario, journalist and producer, Holman was the first writer to use the term Hip Hop in print. Holman produced the first Hip Hop revue to ever perform on stage, opening for Malcolm McLaren’s band Bow Wow Wow at The Ritz in 1981. Holman opened “Negril,” the first Hip Hop nightclub in Downtown New York, then created, hosted and produced the first Hip Hop television show in 1984, “Graffiti Rock.” Holman created, managed, and choreographed the B-Boy dance crew legendary New York City Breakers, and created the first company called Hip hop International Inc in 1983. Touring the world and performing for the likes of President Ronald Reagan and the UK’s Prince Andrew. Holman helped produce the feature film, “Beat Street,” and wrote “Breaking,” a book on Hip Hop Culture for Scribner’s Publishing. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame/Brooklyn Museum show: “Roots, Rhymes + Rage: The Hip Hop Story,” features Holman’s many Hip Hop artifacts and writings.

His voice has been sampled on the Beastie Boys track "Alright Hear This".

As an educator, Holman has taught courses at institutions such as Howard University in Washington, D.C. (where he taught screenwriting for seven years), the Photo Workshops in Maine, and New York City’s The New School For Social Research in Manhattan. In 2011, Holman began teaching short film screenwriting at New York's MPS Live Action Short Film Department at the School of Visual Arts. As a lecturer on Contemporary Urban Culture and Art, Holman has spoken at the following institutions: The Whitney Museum, the Royal College of Art (London), Cox 18 (Milan), Austin Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, Yale University, NYU, Rice University, the San Francisco Art Institute, Payne Weber Incorporated and RJ Reynolds Incorporated.

Working as a writer and journalist, Holman has written for the East Village Eye, ArtForum and Art Monthly (London).

As a filmmaker, Holman has won various awards, including: the Cable Industry Ace Award, for “Eureeka’s Kastle,” in 1988; Best Video Of The Year, Rolling Stone Magazine, for Run DMC music video “Christmas In Hollis,” in 1987; the Paulette Goddard Award, Best Film, NYU, for “Head’s, You Win,” in 1987 and an Emmy Nomination for his TV special, “Graffiti Rock,” in 1984.

Working as a fine artist, Holman deconstructs the Confederate flag on canvas, recently showing his paintings at Miami Art Basel, both in 2007 and 2008. Holman's work has shown internationally, including twice at the Spring Break Show in New York City.

Holman has a BA from the University of San Francisco and attended the NYU Graduate School of Film


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