In the early 1980s Jean-Michel Basquiat was heralded as one of the most important artistic discoveries of the Twentieth Century. Stratospherically catapulted into the art journals and the society pages, Basquiat's freshly urban and totally unique brand of intellectualized 'primitivism' was informed by a full spectrum of art historical and cultural sources: Leonardo da Vinci, graffiti art (both modern and ancient), Cy Twombly, Dubuffet, Picasso and the gritty urban environment of Brooklyn and lower Manhattan.
By the mid-1980's, Basquiat was working in layers: covering, adding, and superimposing elements on the canvas, creating a tapestry of eclectic imagery which jostles for prominence amid the monochromatic fields of paint, threatening to totally subsume the canvas. Richard Marshall notes, "Basquiat was attempting to achieve a rough and casual appearance in defiance to the pristine, expensive canvases and stretchers that many of his colleagues were using at the time." ("Jean-Michel Basquiat: Speaking in Tongues" in Exh. Cat., Lugano, Museo d'Arte Moderna, Jean-Michel Basquiat, 2005, p. 56). His stylistically mature works were loaded with a dense network of ideas, dazzling both as an artistic execution and as a vehicle for the many tributaries of thought that inform Basquiat's process. A prolific draftsman, his studio was littered with sketches and notebooks, full of the early iterations of the scribbled iconography that would later find its way onto his canvases.
Untitled, 1980-81, is one of the artist's most compositionally sound expressions of inner turmoil. An important example of Basquiat's self-portraiture, includes the two basic elements the define his oeuvre: a central figure within a plane of invented symbolism. Here, a scrawled chair, an open boxed labeled with a cryptic "s," and a baseball, drawn in a childish hand, float like barely-remembered motifs from a dream. Seemingly trying to exorcise demons within, Basquiat's gestures are endlessly frantic; his oil stick marks and swathes of paint show the implosion of form into pure energy. The figure is built up with bravura of dense, muscular strokes of muddy green paint and dense black oil stick. It is as if the manner of its application mirrors the content of this painting. The artist has etched the oil stick into a violent, tortured posed: the figure's head is bowed and shielded, as if in anguish, with a signature skeleton hand. Basquiat here has harnessed his energy and channeled it into this heartbreaking pose.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale