7
7
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.
1,500,0002,000,000
LOT SOLD. 4,455,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
7
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.
1,500,0002,000,000
LOT SOLD. 4,455,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York

Jean-Michel Basquiat
1960 - 1988
UNTITLED
numbered BASQ-0547 on the reverse; numbered JMB-0434 on a label affixed to the reverse
oilstick on paper
16 by 13 1/2 in. 40.6 by 34.3 cm.
Executed in 1982.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Estate of the Artist
Robert Miller Gallery, New York
Private Collection, Italy
Acquired by the present owner from the above

Exhibited

New York, Robert Miller Gallery, Jean Michel Basquiat Drawings, November 1990, p. 26, no. 26, illustrated in color

Literature

Exh. Cat., Paris, Fondation Dina Vierny-Musée Maillol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1997, p. 164, illustrated in color (in installation at Robert Miller Gallery, New York, 1990, in incorrect orientation)
Galerie Enrico Navarra, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Paris, 1999, pp. 360-361, illustrated in color (in installation at Robert Miller Gallery, New York, 1990)
Exh. Cat., New York, Acquavella Galleries, Jean-Michel Basquiat Drawing: Works from the Schorr Family Collection, 2014, pp. 84-85, illustrated in color (in installation at Robert Miller Gallery, New York, 1990)

Catalogue Note

“Start with the head. (He painted them obsessively). The Hair was a focal point… the dreadlocks, Basquiat’s own version of a crown… Next the eyes. There was that look… People said his eyes could eat through your face, see right through you, zap you like the x-ray vision of his comic book heroes.”

Phoebe Hoban, Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art, London 1998, p. IX

Bursting forth from the page in a scarlet blaze, Untitled from 1982 is a captivating testament to Jean-Michel Basquiat’s instinctive and unrivaled abilities as a draughtsman. Rendered with ferocious intensity, the strident strokes of Basquiat’s preferred oilstick resolve to reveal a figure that, in its sheer painterly force, emphatically testifies to the gravity and intent with which the artist approached his works on paper. In its searing, talismanic rendering of a crimson skull, Untitled numbers among a group of fifteen intensely worked and re-worked portrayals of the human head that Basquiat created in 1982; a paradigmatic example of the artist’s most iconic motif, the present work stands apart from this group for its chromatic radiance and technically resolved form. Included in the seminal exhibition Jean-Michel Basquiat Drawings at Robert Miller Gallery in 1990, Untitled wholly embodies the artist’s approach to his works on paper, as described by scholar Robert Storr in his introduction for that exhibition: “Drawing, for [Basquiat], was something you did rather than something done, an activity rather than a medium. The seemingly throw-away sheets that carpeted his studio might appear little more than warm-ups for painting, except that the artist, a shrewd connoisseur of his own off-hand and under foot inventions, did not in fact throw them away, but instead kept the best for constant reference and re-use. Or, kept them because they were, quite simply, indestructibly vivid.” (Robert Storr, “Two Hundred Beats Per Min,” in Exh. Cat., New York, The Robert Miller Gallery, Basquiat Drawings, 1990, n.p.)

Enduring as both idiosyncratic self-portrait and skull-like talismanic icon, the single ferocious figure revealed in Untitled prevailed as a key conceptual anchor for Basquiat throughout his career, appearing in and dominating the majority of his best known masterworks. In the present work, the cerebrum of the figure is rendered in brilliant crimson oilstick, overlaid with bold strokes of black to delineate the outlines of bared teeth, a crazed gaze, and a frenzied fringe of curling hair; used sparingly, neon accents of bright yellow and blue add dimensionality to the figure rising, wraithlike, from the paper before us. In its use of saturated color and frenetic line to render a disembodied cranium, Untitled invokes such works as Untitled (Skull), in the collection of the Broad Museum in Los Angeles, and Untitled, in the collection of Yusuku Maezawa, also painted in 1982. Describing the sequence of arresting heads drawn and painted by the artist in that year, scholar Fred Hoffman notes: "At the outset of 1982, Jean-Michel Basquiat created unique and haunting images of the male head... While they share the characteristics of large, bulging eyes, open mouth and often short, spiky hair, each image is distinct and individual. These figures are unsettling, leaving the viewer with the feeling that they exist in another realm. Peering out into our space, they are oracles conveying a message from another dimension." Remarking further upon the significance of Basquiat’s repeated and frenetic rendering of skulls throughout this year, Hoffmann continues: "What drew Basquiat almost obsessively to the depiction of the human head was his fascination with the face as a passageway from exterior physical presence into the hidden realities of man’s psychological and mental realms…they not only peer out as if seeing, but also invite the viewer to penetrate within." (Exh. Cat., New York, Acquavella Galleries, Jean-Michel Basquiat Drawing: Works from the Schorr Family Collection, 2014, p. 74) Brilliantly formulated in the artist’s intuitive and innovative psyche and then translated onto the paper surface, the sheer visual voltage of Untitled reveals the impassioned, almost compulsive intensity Basquiat brought to both his work on paper and to his larger practice; far from inanimate, the charged lines achieve an intensely expressive power - Basquiat delivering a fusion of internal and external sensory experiences with the electrifying force of a live wire.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York