Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988), Untitled, 1981. Acrylic, oilstick and spray paint on canvas, 78 x 72in. (199.5 x 182.9cm.). Estimate in the region of $20 million. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2012.
On 27 June, Christie’s Evening Auction of Post-War & Contemporary Art will present a selection of important works including a pivotal painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat, created in the seminal year of 1981. Bursting forth from the canvas in a combustive palette of scarlet red, dusky pink, vermillion and fluorescent yellow, Untitled is an intuitive, gestural maelstrom from the very height of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s practice. Undertaken in 1981 and formerly owned by the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Untitled is one of the artist’s earliest masterpieces, marrying the gritty urbanism of his street graffiti with his raw and guttural symbolism. In 2007, Untitled, sold for $14.6 million, breaking the artist’s world auction record at the time, today, the estimate is within the region of $20 million, positioning it to break Basquiat’s record again, which was achieved last May in New York at $16.3 million.
Brett Gorvy, Chairman and International Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, declared: “This outstanding ‘self-portrait’ is a tour de force in Basquiat’s short career and was executed before his recognition and success. His rising energy added to the use of a mix of acrylic, oilstick and spray paint which makes the vibrant intensity of the monumental central figure unrivaled. The art market has never been this strong, and the demand for masterpieces like this work is global. We are happy to offer this work in June in London, following the record auction results achieved in New York a few weeks ago.”
The character standing in the center of the monumental composition is part self-portrait, reflecting the artist’s short, close-cropped hair at the time, and part boxing legend, alluding to those mighty African-American champions Sugar Ray Robinson, Cassius Clay and Joe Louis. Sanctified in Basquiat’s pantheon of black sporting stars, the figure is crowned with a halo of scrawled, meandering paint: yellow, black and white like some radiant effigy or sacrificial martyr.
You can read the full article via ArtDaily here.
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