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PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Jean-Michel Basquiat
THIN IN THE OLD
Estimate
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Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
3,000,0005,000,000
LOT SOLD. 3,650,900 EUR
JUMP TO LOT
54

PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Jean-Michel Basquiat
THIN IN THE OLD
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Double Dagger
Indicates that the lot is being sold whilst subject to Temporary Importation, and that VAT is due at the reduced rate
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
3,000,0005,000,000
LOT SOLD. 3,650,900 EUR
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Art Contemporain – Evening Sale

|
Paris

Jean-Michel Basquiat
1960 - 1988
THIN IN THE OLD
signed, titled and dated 86 on the reverse
acrylic, oil and Xerox collage on panel
182,5 x 107 x 24 cm; 71 7/8 x 42 1/8 x 9 7/16 in.
Executed in 1986.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Galerie Bischofberger, Zürich
Akira Ikeda Gallery, Tokyo
Private Collection, Europe
Sale: Sotheby's, New York, Contemporary Art, 18 November 1998, lot 179
Kantor Gallery, Beverly Hills
Private Collection, Europe

Exhibited

Tokyo, Akira Ikeda Gallery, Jean-Michel Basquiat, New Works, February 1987; catalogue, no. 4

Literature

Richard D. Marshall, Jean-Louis Prat, Jean-Michel Basquiat, New York, 1996, pp. 104-105, no. 1, illustrated in colour
Richard D. Marshall, Jean-Louis Prat, Jean-Michel Basquiat, New York, 2000, pp. 242-243, no. 1, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

COMP (with masks)
Jean-Michel Basquiat, New York studio, 1987, photo Tseng Kwong Chi © Muna Tseng Dance Projects, Inc.

Fig. 1
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Grillo, 1984 © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, ADAGP, Paris, 2017

Fig. 2 (on top of box)
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Great Jones Street studio ©Lizzie Himmel 1985

Fig. 3 (mask)
Statue, Songye, République Démocratique du Congo
haut. 103 cm – 180,000-250,000 €
Arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie, Paris, 12 décembre 2017

Fig. 4 (African drawing)
Burchard Brentjes, African Rock Art. Royal portrait from the "Dende-maro" at Rusape (New York: Clarkson N. Potter)

Complex, hybrid, protean, nonconformist, visionary, radical, intransigent, immediate, remorseless… Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings appear to have no limits. Inspired by pop culture, African sculpture, sacred voodoo mythology and the work of Leonardo da Vinci, Basquiat continually pushed against the edges of art, to the limits of artistic, aesthetic and poetic representation.

Although his career was short, Basquiat explored many paths. His interests spread to themes such as capitalism, racism, identity and death. In this sense Thin in the Old is emblematic of Basquiat’s work as it deals with all these subjects at once.

Painted a few weeks after the artist’s trip to the Ivory Coast where he exhibited thirty or so paintings at the Centre Culturel Français in Abidjan, the fleuron of French cultural diplomacy in Francophone Africa, Thin in the Old reflects the artist’s fascination for African cultural heritage. Basquiat suffered from racism all of his life. Even when famous, the young man explained how it was impossible for him to take a taxi as drivers refused to let him in because of his skin colour. In 1986, following his one and only trip to Africa, Basquiat was galvanised by what he thought to be the beginnings of international recognition, hoping that the great museums he had visited as a child would soon become interested in his work. He hoped to soon accomplish the mission he held close to his heart, and which he resumed in the following terms: “Picasso arrived at primitive art in order to give of its nobility to western art. And I arrived at Picasso to give his nobility to the art called ‘primitive’.”

Another essential theme dealt with in Thin in the Old is death, explicitly represented here in the central skeletal figure which inhabits the space of the painting like an eerie warning. With the motif of the memento mori which reminds the viewer of the fragile and precarious nature of human life, Basquiat refers to a long iconographical tradition which can be traced back to Antiquity. In the Middle Ages death was a recurring theme in paintings, dances of death and descriptions of the triumph of death such as the one by Brueghel the Elder today kept in the Prado museum were very popular. In most cases, as in Thin in the Old, death was represented in its simplest form, that of a skeleton.

The addition of architectural elements from everyday life in Thin in the Old is also a means of criticizing consumer society and the established order between what was considered street art or low art and high art. The two boxes covered in inscriptions and visible in the lower part of the painting thus, like the Vanitas, refer to art history and more specifically to Marcel Duchamp’s famous Boite-en-valise , a kind of portable album reflecting its author’s interest in aesthetic theories which brings together the images of his works, as well as his friend and mentor Andy Warhol with his famous Brillo Box which, like Duchamp’s ready-mades, question the limits of representation by imitating a product of consumerism and transforming it into a museum icon that undermines artistic references.  Finally, they also refer to African fetish boxes holding amulets and talismans.

Basquiat’s paintings thus depict the things that haunted him. They are his personal diary. An assemblage of simplistic boxes and boards figuring a brown, skeletal silhouette which carries the violence and the force of art. Thin in the Old is an exceptional painting fed by popular American culture and evocative of so many questions that still haunt America today.

“A connoisseur of modern poetry, Basquiat was ultimately a painter-poet. He composed paintings and drawings like songs, hymns or verses of an immense pulverized poem, torn from the nerves and the organs. We can hear his voice, his breath, as if he were talking to himself out loud as he painted and drew, just like certain jazz musicians such as Jimi Hendrix. Each time, his being is engaged in a wrestle with words, similar to his wrestle with painting. This was the case of the Beat generation poets that he loved, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and William Burroughs (…). Closer in this to poets than to painters. He was the only artist in the United States to constantly demonstrate this, without saying so.”

Alain Jouffroy

Art Contemporain – Evening Sale

|
Paris