First Look | Basquiat's Heroic Action Comic One

New York | September 2023

Up, up and away! A witty and larger than life depiction of Superman—one of the most ubiquitous and beloved figures of American popular culture—Jean Michel Basquiat’s ‘Action Comics One’ is a consummate example of the artist’s distinctive style. The title ‘Action Comics One’ directly references Action Comics #1, widely considered to be the first publication of the superhero genre for introducing the character of “Superman.” Basquiat’s affinity for comic books and cartoons dates to his early childhood. Between 1983 and 1987, Basquiat revisited this childhood fascination in a highly limited series of nine known superhero works featuring popular figures like Thor, Batman, The Flash and, of course, Superman. Characteristic of Basquiat’s most formidable paintings, ‘Action Comics One’ extends over five feet in either direction. Its surface highly worked and layered in punchy shades of teal, scarlet, yellow and emerald, there is also a nuanced probe into notions of race, class, identity and mortality baked into the microcosm of children’s cartoons. Executed in 1983, the work has remained in the same private collection for over three decades. Now, it heads to auction this November in our Contemporary Evening Auction. Stay tuned for more.

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