185
185

PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Jean-Michel Basquiat
UNTITLED 
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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.
600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 792,500 USD
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185

PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Jean-Michel Basquiat
UNTITLED 
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.
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.
600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 792,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction

|
New York

Jean-Michel Basquiat
1960 - 1988
UNTITLED 
oilstick on paper 
18 1/8 by 15 7/8 in. 46 by 37.7 cm.
Executed in 1982. 
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This work is accompanied by a certificate issued by the Authentication Committee for The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Provenance

Private Collection
Catherine Charbonneaux, Paris, 26 October 1990, Lot 119
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner

Exhibited

Paris, Galerie Pascal Lansberg, Jean-Michel Basquiat, December 2010, pp. 32-33, illustrated in color 

Catalogue Note

“Basquiat’s encyclopedic imagination couldn’t help but gather and include the thousands of sensory impressions he experienced every day—from the cartoons of his childhood comic books, to the cataloging of black history derived from his voluminous reading. He voraciously consumed signs and symbols and recast them into his own agnostic code with blazing speed.”

Tony Shafrazi, "Basquiat: Messenger of the Sacred and Profane" in Exh. Cat., New York, Tony Shafrazi Gallery, Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1999, p. 12

Fused with the graffiti style that captured the attention of the New York art scene, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s iconic aesthetic is embedded in the indigenous and ancient artistic traditions of African tribal art, and channeled through the influence of Pablo Picasso, Cy Twombly and Abstract Expressionist masters. He was self-taught, sufficiently seasoned from countless childhood visits to the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan. Born to Haitian and Puerto Rican parents and raised in Brooklyn, the young artist infused his work with an allegory of heritage and racial identity. The palpable confidence and energy from his SAMO period soon manifested in paintings and works on paper in the early 1980s, at which time he was approached by the German art dealer Bruno Bischofberger, who helped elevate his work to international acclaim. The present work was executed at a critical moment in the artist’s career—by 1982, Basquiat has settled into the New York art scene, rising to prominence at the young age of 22. Untitled possesses a highly intriguing, deliberately crude quality that pervades Basquiat’s entire oeuvre. His vehemence and candid style broke from tradition and solidified him as a pioneer of the late 20th century art scene in New York.

Much like Picasso, Basquiat focused just as much energy on his works on paper as he did his paintings. In the first few months of 1982, the young artist produced a series of similarly rendered and equally riveting faces. These existed as individual characters, stagnant and floating in space, yet fraught with motion and expression. Basquiat’s raw, primitive aesthetic recalls Picasso’s captivation with the aesthetic of traditional African art and sculpture. In particular, both artists drew inspiration from ancestral African masks, which has become integral to the discourse on affinity and cultural appropriation in art. Basquiat took a particular interest in Picasso’s abstracted aesthetic, and pursued a similar pictorial approach in his own work. Drafted in a flat, reductive style with minimal facial detail, Untitled evokes the formal qualities of the legendary African masks he would have seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a child. The red ochre and rich blue color of the present example much resemble the palette of Picasso’s 1970 L’Étreinte, while the composition resembles the mask itself. This notion of affinity, while problematic in some ways with regard to Picasso, is profoundly enhanced in Basquiat’s work. His mixed heritage and art historical insights allow for an enlightened approach to creation. He distinctively scrutinizes the visual language of modernism from a unique, racial vantage point to offer an added layer to this discourse.

Basquiat cultivated a body of work from the perspective of a young, black New York City native in pursuit of a chiefly white, Western art historical legacy. Untitled possesses the same rudimentary quality that Picasso so passionately emulated in his work; yet, where much criticism surrounds the notion of affinity between Picasso’s works and the cultural property of non-white, non-European communities, Basquiat’s work actively addresses and confronts the controversy. It emblematizes Basquiat’s artistic dexterity, borrowing elements from his own upbringing and knowledge of art history to generate new, visually and culturally informed codes. Rendered in line with a restricted yet thoughtful palette, this piece represents a potent meta-narrative that emerged with Basquiat’s artistic endeavors of the 1980s.

Contemporary Art Day Auction

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New York