Jean-Michel Basquiat had a meteoritic trajectory in the art world and profoundly impacted the art market. 2021 was a record year for the artist at auction, who generated close to USD 440 million through the sale of no more than 104 lots. His paintings have been selling for very strong prices more particularly in Asia.

 

This article highlights some of the most important works (paintings and drawings) sold since 1 January 2021.

 

Paintings Sold in 2022


As of 31 July 2022, 6 paintings of Jean-Michel Basquiat sold at auction for a total over USD 128 million.

 

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
Untitled, 1981
Acrylic, spray-paint, oilstick and paper collage on canvas
48×56 inches (122×142 cm)
Poly Auction Hong-Kong: 12 July 2022
HKD 105,600,000 / USD 13,452,743

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
Logo, 1984
Acrylic, oilstick and silkscreen on canvas
60×48 inches (152×122 cm)
Poly Auction Hong-Kong: 12 July 2022
HKD 25,200,000 / USD 3,210,313

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
Untitled, 1982
Acrylic and spray-paint on canvas
94×197 inches (239.4×501 cm)
Phillips New-York: 18 May 2022
USD 85,000,000

Coming from the esteemed collection of Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa, Untitled is one of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s greatest masterpieces. Its potency and scale mark it as one of his most ambitious works: standing at almost eight feet tall and over 16 feet wide, it is among his largest canvases. Executed in 1982, the watershed year which shot the artist to international stardom, this tour de force is from a small series created in Modena, Italy, where Basquiat visited at the invitation of the dealer Emilio Mazzoli during two periods in the early 1980s. This pivotal chapter, today regarded as one of the most desirable of his career, marked his transition from “SAMO©”, the pseudonym Basquiat used as a street poet and tagger whose nom de plume had begun appearing all over New York’s disintegrating infrastructure in the 1970s, to an art world force to be reckoned with.

Indeed, Untitled’s vastness is so striking that it, coupled with the artist’s use of spray paint and geometric shapes, is suggestive of a large mural or graffiti-covered city wall—a fusion of street culture with “high art” that reflects a radical shift in his career and approach to art-making.

 

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
His Blue Sniffing Valet, 1984
Acrylic, oilstick and graphite on canvas
86×68 inches (219×173 cm)
Christie’s New-York: 9 May 2022
USD 7,260,000

Towering over seven feet tall, His Glue Sniffing Valet, 1984, is a vivid fusion of New York street life and spiritual symbolism by Jean-Michel Basquiat. The artist depicts a figure in a wheelchair, arms spread wide, with a bottle in a brown paper bag in his lap; behind him, a dark, faceless silhouette inhales from another bag. Painted in stark, calligraphic strokes, the duo stand against a bright backdrop of broad-brushed off-white acrylic, above a field of scarlet. A leaf-shaped glyph shoots upwards from this red zone. Further red touches enhance the central figure, whose face—with narrow eyes, gritted teeth and dagger-like lips—recalls the African masks so prominent in Basquiat’s work of this period. Unusually for his paintings, the artist relayed a specific story behind the picture’s genesis. With typical syncretic verve—making nods to Abstract Expressionism, Modernist figuration and African art alike—the artist conjures the mystical aura of this encounter as well as the urban grit of downtown Manhattan. His Glue Sniffing Valet is a powerful apparition, alive with the color and magic Basquiat was able to draw from art history and the dynamic, variegated world around him.

Untitled, 1981
Acrylic, spray paint, oilstick and Xerox collage on canvas
48.2 x 60 inches (122.6 x 152.4 cm)
Sotheby’s London: 2 March 2022
GBP 3,302,000 / USD 4,413,848

Executed in 1981, Untitled narrates a breakthrough year within Jean-Michel Basquiat’s iconic oeuvre. Covered in vigorously applied red, orange and yellow pigment accented by black and white dripping spray paint, the present work is replete with urban iconography, and heady with references to the artist’s graffiti origins on the streets of New York City. A spectacular celebration of the dual powers of iconography and expressionism, this painting incites a visceral response from its viewer. It is a prime example of Basquiat’s early style at its rampant best, characterized by raw expressionistic force and unbridled creative energy. The frenetic composition, swathed with expressive image-making, harnesses a myriad of references that evoke the language of a city in glorious disarray.

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
Il Duce, 1982
Acrylic, oilstick on canvas
60×60 inches (152.4 x 152.4 cm)
Christie’s Shanghai: 22 February 2022
CNY 94,160,000 / USD 14,915,491

Painted in 1982, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s gleaming Il Duce is a striking portrait that encapsulates the artist’s groundbreaking painterly style, a dramatic form of expression that firmly established him as one of the most revolutionary artists of the twentieth century. Alongside Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol, Basquiat transformed the genre of portraiture from an historic and rather staid form of artistic expression to a highly charged and contemporary mode of painting which fizzes with painterly energy and excitement. As one of the artist’s sought after “head” paintings, Il Duce is packed with the artistic tropes that have come to distinguish his career: frenetic mark-making, a litany of enigmatic signs and symbols, and a dramatic use of color. Painted at the same time as his made his legendary trip to Modena in Italy, the present work belongs to a remarkable series of paintings which now form the core of the Basquiat’s oeuvre. Big, bold, and brash, they encapsulate the mature style of an artist who was at the peak of his powers of creative expression.

 

Drawings Sold in 2022


 

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
Untitled (Self Portrait), 1982
Oilstick and ink on paper
29.9 x 22 inches (75.9 x 55.9cm)
Christie’s London: 27 June 2022
GBP 7,961,000

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
Portrait of Keith Haring, 1984
Oilstick on paper
29.7 x 20.5 inches (75.6 x 52.1cm)
Christie’s London: 27 June 2022
GBP 1,242,000

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
Untitled
, 1982
Oilstick on paper
30.2 x 22.2 inches (76.5 x 56.5 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 19 May 2022
USD 3,317,000

Captivating in its electric immediacy, Untitled from 1982 is a brilliant representation of Basquiat’s most acclaimed motif, the iconic skull-like head. He rendered in a searing black oil stick and punctuated by a spiked and coiled crown, the legendary motif was not only employed by the artist as a talismanic symbol, but also as a representative of his very being; in this way, the bewitching head provides a raw look into the mind of one of the most brilliant artists of the Twentieth Century. Executed in 1982, Untitled dates to the very year that Basquiat’s meteoric ascension from unknown to icon began to unfold. Indeed, it was in 1982 that Basquiat had his first solo exhibitions with Annina Nosei in New York, Larry Gagosian in Los Angeles and Bruno Bischofberger in Zurich, establishing the young street artist formerly known as SAMO© as a key contributor to the bustling and competitive New York art scene. Exploding with gestural fervor and featuring a head more muscular than skeletal, Untitled embodies both the artist’s innate ability to distill angst into dynamism and his newfound maturity as a fierce draftsman.

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
Untitled, 1981
Acrylic, oilstick and wax crayon on paper laid down on canvas
25.5 x 19.7 inches (64.8 x 50.2 cm)
Christie’s New-York: 12 May 2022
USD 945,000

Untitled from 1981 vividly exemplifies the artist’s crude yet sophisticated style. 1981 was a momentous year for the preternaturally-talented young artist: René Ricard published The Radiant Child, the piece of writing that arguably launched Basquiat to gallery superstardom, and Basquiat also took part in the seminal New York/New Wave exhibition at MoMA PS1. Simultaneously brooding and playful, Untitled’s half-drawn, half-painted surface confronts the viewer with an explosion of bright yellow-orange which is then balanced out by an encroaching darkness from above. Basquiat’s painterly mannerisms are reminiscent of the Art Brut style, typified by artists such as Jean Dubuffet and Paul Klee, but Basquiat imbues this work with a visual lexicon and flamboyant color palette all his own.

Paintings sold in 2021


In 2021, 15 paintings sold for a total close to USD 410 million. The two most expensive paintings sold in New-York on May 2021. 5 Paintings sold in Hong-Kong for a total of just over USD 150 million.

 

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
In This Case
, 1982
Acrylic and oilstick on canvas
77.9 x 73.7 inches (197.8 x 187.3 cm)
Christie’s New-York: 11 May 2021
USD 93,105,000

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
Versus Medici
, 1982
Acrylic, oilstick and paper collage on three joined canvases
84.2 x 54.2 inches (214 x 137.8 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 12 May 2021
USD 50,820,000

Urgent, arresting, and replete with potent symbolism, Versus Medici is a magnificent crystallization of the tremendous graphic force and intricate iconography that have come to define Jean-Michel Basquiat’s revolutionary career. Executed in the crucial year of 1982, when Basquiat was only 22 years old, the present work is among Basquiat’s most emphatic visual challenges to the hegemony of the Western canon. Within the searing figure of the present work, the young artist boldly crowns himself as both successor to and worthy adversary of the artistic legacy of the masters of the Italian Renaissance. Having remained in the same distinguished private collection for over 30 years, Versus Medici is an exceptional and rare example of the artist’s most celebrated motif: the single, warrior-like figure. Pulsing with the energy of his unique and coveted pictorial lexicon, Versus Medici is positioned in the top tier of Basquiat’s immensely impactful cycle of grand-scale male figures from 1981 and 1982, and is undoubtedly one of the most striking and dramatic works of that period. Through a radical approach to figuration borne of his fascination with anatomy, Basquiat breaks down the dichotomy between the external and internal, revealing the cacophonous innermost aspects of psychic life with breathtaking vitality. Befitting its importance, the work has been included in several major exhibitions worldwide, including Intuition at the Palazzo Fortuny during the 2017 Venice Biennale, and most recently, Jean-Michel Basquiat: Made in Japan, the artist’s first comprehensive survey exhibition in Japan. Spectacularly forged in an array of oilstick, acrylic, and paper collage, this painting brings the haptic urgency of Basquiat’s art to life. It is challenging, dissonant, and alluring, as explosive in its execution as it is erudite in its conception.

 

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
Warrior
, 1982
Acrylic, oilstick and spray-paint on wood panel
72×48 inches (183×122 cm)
Christie’s Hong-Kong: 22 March 2021
HKD 323,600,000 / USD 41,662,529
Painted in 1982 at the height of his artistic power, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Warrior is a commanding and authoritative portrait that amply demonstrates why the artist is regarded as one of the most important painters of the last half century. In the centre, a noble figure is rendered using the artist’s distinctive brushwork; carefully controlled and yet expressive gestures revel in their rudimentary nature, resulting in a figure that reverberates with artistic energy. With its roots firmly located in the grand traditions of portraiture, yet executed in a resolutely contemporary manner, this part mythical figure/part self-portrait spans artistic genres. Yet its unique style also validates Basquiat’s role as the artist who helped to resurrect contemporary painting in the early 1980s following decades of neglect. This large-scale painting is one of a number which the artist undertook during that period, all painted on panel, which have subsequently come to be regarded as some of his best works. This particular work was publicly exhibited for the first time at Akira Ikeda Gallery in Tokyo in 1983 and has been widely exhibited around the world, most recently at the critically acclaimed exhibition Jean-Michel Basquiat at the Brant Foundation Art Study Center in New York on 2019.

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
The Guilt of Gold Teeth, 1982
Acrylic, spray paint and oilstick on canvas
94.5 x 165.9 inches (240 x 421.3 cm)
Christie’s New-York: 8 November 2021
USD 40,000,000

 

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
Untitled, 1985
Acrylic and oilstick on wood, in three parts
217.2 x 275.6 x 30.5 cm (85.5 x 108.5 x 12 inches)
Sotheby’s Hong-Kong: 18 June 2021
HKD 289,316,000 / USD 37,271,134

Arresting, monumental, and tremendously emblematic, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s towering masterwork Untitled typifies the graphic ferocity, referential intricacy, and explosive painterly fervor that characterizes the artist’s truly singular oeuvre. Painted at the absolute zenith of his success and international visibility, Untitled powerfully embodies the apogee of Basquiat’s creative output. Exemplifying his ability to draw upon disparate cultural narratives within his own searing visual vernacular, Basquiat’s iconic pantheon of heroic figures are potently present within the present work, testifying to his unique positioning at the nexus of tradition and the contemporary art world. Executed in the early months of 1985, Untitled is notably and inexorably tied to Basquiat’s famous February 1985 New York Times Magazine cover, in which he sits positioned directly in front of the work. Wearing a sharp suit and wielding a paintbrush, sitting barefoot before the present work with legs akimbo, the photograph has become one of the most famous images of the young artist, and is reproduced in virtually every major monograph and exhibition catalogue to cover his work. That Basquiat chose to feature the present work in that image – which would appear on the cover of such a prominent and widely disseminated publication – underscores the poignancy and vital symbolism present in the work and positions it as an encapsulation of all Basquiat represented artistically and culturally at the peak of his practice in the 1980’s.

 

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
Untitled (One Eyed Man or Xerox Face), 1982
Acrylic, spray paint, oilstick and Xerox collage on panel
72×48 inches (182.9 x 121.9 cm)
Christie’s Hong-Kong: 23 May 2021
HKD 234,290,000 / USD 30,175,146

A masterwork from the pinnacle of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s career, Untitled (One Eyed Man or Xerox Face) (1982) stands among the very greatest of the artist’s iconic large-scale figure paintings. Over a panel six feet in height, Basquiat has scrawled, sprayed and collaged a tall, bright red being, with his arms raised in triumph, and his head ringed with a halo or crown of thorns. Blazes of blue, yellow and white paint ignite the backdrop, with the right-hand side thrown into black shadow. The surface is electric with texture and movement. In places, Basquiat has incised the thick pigment to reveal dark underpainting. Sinuous black spray-paint animates the figure’s arms and halo, while oilstick loops of black and white course over his red body as if mapping skeleton and muscle. At the painting’s core is the ‘Xerox face’ of the title: Basquiat has applied a photocopied sheet of his own drawing to create the figure’s face, and overlaid it with further marks, including a focal lens of white around its cyclopean eye. A rare early instance of the Xerox-collage that Basquiat would go on to use frequently in his later works, it is perhaps the most striking single use of this technique in his entire oeuvre. To the lower right, Basquiat combines his famous crown motif with another single eye in a large, graphic white symbol, underscoring the retinal emphasis of the picture. Rearing up before us with regal, even holy force, the work displays Basquiat’s command of colour and form at its most visceral and thrilling. The figure smiles with enigmatic glee, bearing his teeth in a doubled red and green grin. Surveying his empire, he is a vision of the old proverb that ‘In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.’

 

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
Donut Revenge, 1982
Acrylic, oilsticks, and paper collage on canvas
96x 72 inches (243.2 x 182.2 cm)
Christie’s Hong-Kong: 30 November 2021
HKD 163,300,000 / USD 20,953,023

Towering almost eight feet high, Donut Revenge (1982) is a monumental figure painting from the pinnacle of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s career. Amid a background formed of radiant, gestural swathes of pink, white, black, yellow and red paint, a striking character floats like an angel. Arcs of energy crackle from his outstretched limbs; one arm glows purplish blue, and the other emits smoky lines as if sizzling with heat. Above his head, a luminous halo spits pyrotechnic sparks, and a large speech-bubble blares with an illegible black scrawl. This element underscores the figure’s graphic intensity, which is indebted to comic-books and cartoons as much as to the Abstract Expressionists and Old Masters. His goggle-eyes, overlaid features and rotund body create a humorous impression, heightened by the inscription ‘little fat man with a chicken leg’ on his chest. Whether the figure makes for a martyr, voodoo effigy, self-portrait or a jab at the overstuffed 1980s art world is an open question; like the speech bubble’s unreadable marks, he is indisputably loud yet ultimately ambiguous. A masterclass in Basquiat’s collisions of art history, the work is anchored by its architectonic colour and electrified line, which come together to form a vividly charged and enigmatic picture.

 

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
Untitled (Red Warrior), 1982
Acrylic and oil stick on linen
77×78 inches (195.6 x 198 cm)
Sotheby’s Hong-Kong: 9 October 2021
HKD 162,926,000 / USD 20,929,800

Created in the pivotal year of 1982, considered Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “annus mirabilis”, Untitled (Red Warrior) is an audacious canvas work from the most desirable period of the artist’s short, intensely prolific career. Incorporating signature elements from his hybridized visual lexicon, this work is a triumphant display of the human form and Basquiat’s bold handling of line and color. Arm raised in victory, or poised to attack, the heroic protagonist of Untitled (Red Warrior) exemplifies Basquiat’s trademark motif of warrior, emerging from the storm of ravenous brushstrokes that threatens to engulf the figure’s crimson physique. With a limited number of only 200 major canvas works deriving from this crucial year, examples of which are seldom offered at auction, Untitled (Red Warrior) is an extraordinary vision of Basquiat’s artistic prowess; the bold, gestural lines and intense color indicative of the artist at his peak.

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
Flash in Naples, 1983
acrylic, oil and oilstick on canvas
66×60 inches (167.6 x 152.7 cm)
Christie’s New-York: 8 November 2021
USD 19,825,000

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
Because it Hurts the Lungs, 1986
Acrylic, oil, oilstick and Xerox collage on wood
72 x 42.2 x 8.4 inches (183 x 107 x 23.9 cm)
Executed in 1986
Christie’s London: 14 October 2021
GBP 8,227,7750

Widely exhibited over the past two decades—including in a major 2004 retrospective of the artist’s work at the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, and more recently in the dual exhibition Keith Haring Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines (2019-2020) at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne—Because it Hurts the Lungs (1986) is an electrifying multimedia work by Jean-Michel Basquiat. A life-size green figure with a russet, cyclopean skull rears up against a white ground. Swathes of ochre and emerald paint echo his sinuous limbs, while white oilstick maps skeletal lines through his upper body. Above his head—with gritted teeth and a single, almond-shaped orange eye ablaze amid smeared pigment—is a schematic halo; snowshoe-like structures adorn his feet. To the backdrop, which is of painted wood, Basquiat has applied sheets of his own drawings and text, some Xeroxed and others freshly inscribed. Among them is a cryptic extract from the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci that lends the work its title: Why the thunderbolt kills a [man and] does not wound him, and if the man blew his nose he would not die. Because it hurts the lungs. Further collage adorns two painted boxes that protrude from the surface, including a drawing of the Lester Young Quartet’s 1944 jazz record Afternoon Of A Basie-ite, Japanese script, snatches of dialogue from Sophocles’ Greek tragedy Ajax, and a grinning, eyeless black head wearing a jewelled mitre. Charged with a sense of ritual magic, this dynamic, three-dimensional painting exemplifies Basquiat’s genius, colliding myriad ideas in a construction of dazzling visual impact.

 

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
Untitled, 1984
Acrylic on canvas
72.2 x 48.2 inches (183.3 x 122.3cm)
Christie’s London: 29 June 2021
GBP 5,995,000

Towering nearly two metres in height, Untitled is an electrifying monument to the human form dating from a pivotal moment in Jean-Michel Basquiat’s career. Painted in 1984—the year of his first solo museum exhibition at the Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh—it captures the thrilling maturation of his visual language just three years after he burst onto the New York art scene. Basquiat had been fascinated by the human skull and body since childhood, when he devoured a copy of Gray’s Anatomy in hospital. Here, the figure looms large like a totemic x-ray, visibly crackling with nervous energy. The head, with bared teeth and a gleaming eye, is fractured in the manner of a Picasso portrait, while an enlarged hand reaches out, stained—like Basquiat’s own—with paint. Lines pivot and ricochet like improvised jazz against a backdrop of free impasto, splashed, smeared and dripped with intuitive abstract flair. Letters, shapes and symbols—some half concealed—punctuate the surface, navigating a vibrant spectrum of teal, blue, red, green and neon yellow. Alive with colour, gesture and texture, it is a testament to the rich command of paint and imagery that powered Basquiat’s meteoric yet tragically brief career.

 

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
Untitled (Soap), 1983-1984
Acrylic, oilstick, metallic paint and Xerox collage on canvas
66×60 inches (167.6 x 152.4 cm)
Christie’s New-York: 10 May 2021
USD 13,184,000

Presenting an intoxicating array of mysterious figures, enigmatic signs, symbols and cyphers, Untitled (Soap) presents one of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s most active surfaces. The painting acts as a guide to the artist’s peripatetic technique, as Xeroxed sheets of the artist’s drawings, energetic gestures manifested in oilstick, and pools of acrylic paint come together in seemingly effortless fashion to present the full range of his practice. Offering both elements of his own life, and that created by his fertile imagination, the present work was executed during a particularly prolific period of Basquiat’s career. Coming off the back of his breakthrough year of 1982, the artist was finally being given the critical attention that his work deserved, and Basquiat had finally migrated from street artist to celebrated wunderkind of the New York art world.

 

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT (1960-1988)
Self-Portrait, 1988
Acrylic on canvas
47.7 x 37.7 x 4 inches (121.3 x 95.9 x 10.2 cm)
Christie’s London: 22 March 2021
GBP 9,086,500

Painted in the final year of his life, Self-Portrait is a vivid climax to Jean-Michel Basquiat’s meteoric career. The artist’s black silhouette emerges from a stark white backdrop, wearing his distinctive crown of dreads. His eyes and grin gleam laser-red; flashes of green and gold lend him a regal underglow, like the gilded image of a saint. With his arms raised, the artist evokes his iconic depictions of victorious boxers, as well as the praying Dogon sculptures of central Mali, whose gestures symbolise a link between earth and heaven. At the same time, he seems to fall apart: his arms disintegrate in a flurry of expressive brushstrokes, like the wings of Icarus turning to ash. It is a striking self-image of power, pain and pride. Picturing both triumph and surrender, Basquiat asserts his status as king of the art world, and boldly faces his own mortality. In the summer of 1988, the painting was included in the last solo exhibition of his lifetime at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg; it has been unseen in public since.

 

Drawings Sold in 2021


JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
Untitled, 1983
Ink and oilstick on paper
29.7 x 22 inches (75.6 x 55.9 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 8 December 2021
USD 3,166,000

In Untitled, Basquiat substitutes perspectival accuracy and spatial recession for a pronounced flatness and a distinct emphasis upon bold color and expression. The facial features form a shape reminiscent of a skull, which in turn constitutes a key motif present throughout Basquiat’s repertoire. The image of the skull is seemingly a personal gesture alluding to a childhood incident in which the artist was hit by a car while playing on the street, and subsequently hospitalised for serious internal injuries and broken limbs. While recuperating after the accident, Basquiat received a copy of Grey’s Anatomy as a gift from his mother, and the myriad anatomical and skeletal images exhibited in the book undoubtedly informed his own visual inventory as he became a working artist. While the image of the skull offers a persisting reminder of the fragility of the human body, it is also a significant symbol of Basquiat’s own childhood trauma and near-encounter with death.

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
Untitled, 1987
Wax crayon on paper
29.5 x 22.2 inches (74.9 x 56.5 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 8 December 2021
USD 1,532,500

Executed at the apex of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s career, Untitled offers a glimpse into the artist’s energetic, imaginative and ingenious mind. The present work illustrates a vibrant symphony of densely layered motifs and symbols that have come to characterize Basquiat’s diverse practice. Untitled from 1987 is a masterly combination of symbols, words, and small figures that are instantly recognizable features of Basquiat’s oeuvre. Different from his paintings, the frenetic energy of Basquiat’s works on paper are unique in their raw immediacy that pave the way for his creative genius to shine through in an unaltered fashion.

 

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
Untitled, 1980-1985
Oilstick and pencil on paper
30 x 22.5 inches (76.2 x 57.2 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 18 November 2021
USD 1,835,000

Vibrantly and densely-layered, Untitled (1980-1985) is a masterful example of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s instinctive and lauded abilities as one of the greatest draughtsman of the Twentieth Century. Typical of his works on paper, the frenetic urgency of the mark-making, the unique variance in color, and the iconic motif of the central head are all effortlessly combined into a singularly sizzling composition that exemplifies Basquiat’s effortless creative genius. Intricately impastoed layers of oilstick in black and red are scrawled upon the surface of Untitled, culminating in a stream of consciousness made visual. The subject of Untitled is constructed of variegated geometrics passages, simple shapes and lines and arcs which coalesce to become both anatomical and schematic. While recovering from a car accident as a youth, Basquiat was given a copy of Gray’s Anatomy by his mother, and the formative text would prove to be influential on his later practice. In Untitled, the subject is depicted as if through an X-ray, their spinal cord visible through their broad exterior, bespeaking this early influence.

 

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
Réne Ricard, 1984
Oilstick, wax crayon, colored pencil and charcoal on paper
30 x 22.5 inches (76.2 x 57.2 cm)
Christie’s New-York: 11 November 2021
USD 2,550,000

 

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
Poedi
, 1981
Oil stick on paper
12.5 x 17.4 inches (32×44 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 30 September 2021
USD 685,500