Estimate: US$5,000,000 - US$7,000,000
Price realised: n. a.
Jean-Michel-Basquiat Untitled (Soap) 1983-84 acrylic, oil stick, paper collage on canvas 66 x 60 in. (168 x 152.8 cm.)
Provenance Robert Miller Gallery, New York Galerie Bernard Cats, Brussels Exhibited Kyongju, Sonje Museum of Contemporary Art, Andy Warhol & Jean-Michel-Basquiat, September 14 - October 20, 1991, then traveled to Seoul, The National Museum of Contemporary Art (November 1 -November 30, 1991) Brussels, Galerie Eric van de Weghe, Jean-Michel-Basquiat, April 9 - May 23, 1992 Literature K.S. Lee, D.A. Ross, Andy Warhol & Jean-Michel-Basquiat, exh. cat., Kyongju: Sonje Museum of Contemporary Art, 1991, no. 12 P. Sterckx, Jean-Michel-Basquiat, exh. cat., Brussels: Galerie Eric van de Weghe, 1992 L. Walsh, Jean-Michel-Basquiat, The Notebooks, New York, Art + Knowledge, 1993, p.9 (illustrated) R. D. Marshall and J-L. Prat, Jean-Michel-Basquiat, Paris: Galerie Enrico Navarra, 1996, vol. II, p. 114, no.1 (illustrated) R. D. Marshall and J-L. Prat, Jean-Michel-Basquiat, Paris: Galerie Enrico Navarra, 3rd ed., 2000, p. 184-185 (illustrated) Catalogue Essay “The ease with which Jean-Michel-achieved profundity convinced me of his genius…but perhaps it was his simple honesty that that has made him a true hero.” KEITH HARING 1989 There is no body of work more distinctive in its iconography or more radically individualistic than that of Jean-Michel-Basquiat. While contemporary critics have been tempted to highlight Basquiat’s background and multicultural influences as the source for his stunning originality, it is far more productive to locate Basquiat’s artistic genius within a more wide-ranging collection of influences that in combination created such a rich legacy. His encyclopedic visual vocabulary remains one of the most far ranging and idiosyncratic imaginable—as well as one of the most debated and mysterious. As Basquiat ascended to the height of his painterly powers during the first years of the 1980s, his visceral, combination of text, content and form reached a fever pitch. It was at this point in history that the present lot, the important Untitled (Soap), 1983-1984 sprung forth from Jean-Michel’s soul. It is among the most technically balanced pieces in Basquiat’s oeuvre and exhibits the incredibly broad cast of figures and motifs so typical of his highest quality works. Basquiat, while ostensibly a self-taught artist, in the breadth of his subjects and inspirations is among the greatest autodidactsof the twentieth century and an artist who actively pursued the painterly excellence of his forbears. “He set out to establish himself as an artist, and began by learning about the painting styles and techniques of established twentieth century artists that he admired, in particular, Pablo Picasso Jean Dubuffet Jackson Pollock Willem de Kooning Franz Kline Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly ”(R. Marshall “Jean-Michel Basquiat and His Subjects”, Jean-Michel-Basquiat, Paris, 1996, p. 15). Basquiat was clearly playing for keeps willing himself into the pantheon of great artists of the twentieth century and beyond through his powerful, ferocious works on canvas. However he did not just admire the great artists of recent history but sought to actively surpass them through dedication and—to a degree— from sheer force of will combined with painterly dexterity. However Basquiat’s affinity for these earlier generations never slipped into mimicry. Akin to a jazz player riffing on a well known tunes, Basquiat makes every strategy and technique he channels unmistakably his own improvising late into the night and creating new possibilities where none were thought to exist before. “Words play a more obsessive and prominent role in his art than in Twombly’s; and his chanting rhythmic repetitiveness for the first time mixed sound into this brew of sense and senses. Basquiat’s visceral receptivity also brought some of Pollock’s lyric passion back into painting.”(K. Kertess, “Brushes with Beatitude”, Jean- Michel Basquiat, ed. R. Marshall New York, p. 54). As a young poet utilizing spray paint to transmit his lyric invention, it was effortless for
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