Lot 859
  • 859

Jean-Michel Basquiat

280,000 - 450,000 HKD
350,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Jean-Michel Basquiat
  • Untitled (Scipio A.)
  • marker on inside cover of Tony Shafrazi Gallery, Champions exhibition catalogue
  • 27.3 by 22.5 cm; 10¾ by 8⅞ in.
signed and inscribed SCIPIO A. SCIP
Executed in 1983.


Private Collection, USA
artnet Auctions, 24 April 2012, lot 64789
Private Collection, USA
artnet Auctions, 18 December 2014, lot 105622
Acquired by the present owner from the above sale

Catalogue Note

Drawing forms a major part of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s artistic oeuvre as important documentation of his personal observations, ranging from street life and popular culture to themes of class, race, and world history. Basquiat doodled often, spontaneously turning any random object into a medium of artistic expression. For instance, the current work is part of a catalogue published on the occasion of the exhibition Champions held at Tony Shafrazi Gallery in New York City in 1983. The exhibition included a group of young rising artists such as Donald Baechler, Keith Haring and Basquiat himself. In the same year, Basquiat was included in the 1983 Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. At the age of twenty-two, he was then and still is one of the youngest artists ever to be included in the Whitney Biennial. This drawing is a great example presenting the artist’s iconic recurring imagery of crowned grimacing skull-like faces drawn in his loose and spontaneous style. The inscription nearby that reads ‘SCIPIO A.’ refers to the Roman warrior Scipio Africanus, whose agnomen ‘Africanus’ was given to him to honour his successful conquests in several countries in Africa. The name is also found in Basquiat’s 1982 painting Jawbone of an Ass, listed amongst a pantheon of historical figures such as Hannibal, Socrates and Alexander the Great. The deliberately crossed out name is a powerful pictorial device that the artist employed to reject the glorification of colonialism as well as White hegemonic society. While the white figure is topped by a halo or a crown of thorns which is symbolic of martyrdom and sainthood, the black figure is equally crowned in majestic triumph. It is a sound social commentary on the racial dichotomy which the artist had experienced having grown up in Brooklyn, New York.