Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat
- Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat
- Untitled (Two Dogs)
- signed by both artists on the reverse
- acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
- 80 by 106 in. 203.2 by 269.2 cm.
- Executed in 1984.
Acquired by the present owner from the above
Zurich-based dealer Bruno Bischofberger could hardly have known to what degree the partnership would mutually enhance both artists' careers when he suggested a collaboration between Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol. Bischofberger's idea for a collaboration, which would eventually grow to include Francesco Clemente and Keith Haring, two other artists whom Bischofberger represented, was based in memories both of grade school assignments, in which each student was responsible for a part of the class mural, and of the Surrealist tradition of the "exquisite corpse," a composition by artists who drew spontaneous images on different folds of the same piece of paper without showing them to each other until a sort of constituent hybrid was created.
Though the teenage Basquiat had pursued Warhol and had already been to the Factory several times by 1980, Warhol initially remained aloof, at first perceiving Basquiat as a naïf of yet to be determined talent. Gradually, Warhol's respect for Basquiat solidified, and their friendship prospered. Untitled (Two Dogs), a collaboration from 1984, is a prime example of their symbiotic relationship. Describing their collaboration in a 1985 interview, Basquiat remarks: "He would put something very concrete or recognizable, like a newspaper headline or a product logo, and then I would try and deface it." (Basquiat in Exh. Cat., Basel, Foundation Beyeler, Basquiat, 2010, p. 47) Indeed, in the present work, Warhol has laid the foundation by silkscreening the images of the two dogs, and Basquiat has elaborated with adding scribbles to indicate urine and feces - quite literally defacing Warhol's contribution.
The combination of Warhol's mechanically reproducible, flat images and Basquiat's hand-painted physicality and purposeful primitivism served both artists well. Though teaming up with the legendary Warhol was certainly a coup for the twenty-three year old Basquiat, the reciprocity of the collaboration should not be underestimated. Basquiat's powerful imagery, poetic symbolism, and youthful frenzy reinvigorated Warhol, whose career had been relatively quiescent for the previous decade. With regards to both artistic spirit and commercial career, the collaboration could not have come at a better time for either: "Jean-Michel thought he needed Andy's fame, and Andy thought he needed Jean-Michel's new blood. Jean-Michel gave Andy a rebellious image again." (Ronny Cutrone in Victor Bockris, Warhol: The Biography, Cambridge, 2003, p. 461-2)