Estimate: US$12,000,000 - US$16,000,000
Price realised: US$11,241,000
Jean-Michel-Basquiat Untitled (Fallen Angel) 1981 Acrylic and oilstick on canvas. 66 x 78 in. (167.6 x 198.1 cm). Signed and dated “Jean-Michel Basquiat 1981” on the reverse.
Provenance Annina Nosei Gallery, New York Exhibited Fondazione La Triennale di Milano, The Jean-Michel-Basquiat Show, September 19, 2006 - January 28, 2007 Literature R.D. Marshall, J.L. Prat, eds., Jean-Michel-Basquiat, Paris, 1996, vol. I, pp. 146-147 (illustrated); Tony Shafrazi Gallery, ed., Basquiat, New York, 1999, p. 94 (illustrated); R.D. Marshall, J.L. Prat, eds., Jean-Michel-Basquiat, Paris, 2000, 3rd Edition, pp. 82-83 (illustrated); R.D. Marshall, J.L. Prat, eds., Jean-Michel-Basquiat, Paris, 2000, 3rd Edition, pp. 34-35 (illustrated); Deitch Projects, Jean-Michel-Basquiat 1981: The Studio of the Street, New York, 2006, pp. 238-239 (illustrated); G. Mercurio, ed., The Jean-Michel-Basquiat Show, Milan, 2006, pp. 74-75 (illustrated) Catalogue Essay The ease with which Jean-Michel-achieved profundity convinced me of his genius. A seemingly effortless stream of new ideas and images proved the potency of his vision. His life and philosophy, which taught by example and bold gestures, elevated him to the role of a teacher. But perhaps it was his simple honesty that has made him a true hero. Kieth Haring, 1989 In 1981, the ubiquitous character “SAMO” was making his mark, quite literally, in the underground world of graffiti art across downtown NewYork. An acronym for “Same old Shit,” this unknown character would soon cause a tectonic shift in the art world as Jean-Michel-Basquiat. Basquiat’s wildly dynamic emergence in the NewYork art scene at this time is a welldocumented legend. 1981 is considered to be the “first phase” of Basquiat’s oeuvre—one demarcated by genius and uncontrollable artistic output. Already a provocative influence on the streets, Basquiat made a natural shift to the canvas, skillfully adopting the purlieus where he learned to become an artist to the more formal gallery environs. “The NewYork Street is one of Basquiat’s most essential inspirations.The work of 1981 reflects the visual and sonic experience of the streets of the East Village and Lower East Side and the Brooklyn streets where he grew up…Basquiat rejuvenates the Modernist tradition by finding its echo on the contemporary NewYork Street.” (J. Deitch, “1981:The Studio of the Street,” Jean Michel Basquiat, NewYork, 2006, p. 13) As Basquiat’s popularity grew, so did the legend that he cultivated. Basquiat stunned and delighted the art world, as Jeffrey Deitch originally wrote in 1982, “Basquiat is likened to the wild boy raised by wolves… A child of the streets gawked at by the intelligentsia. But Basquiat is hardly a primitive. He’s more like a rock star, seemingly savage, but completely in control; astonishingly proficient but scornful of the tough discipline that normally begets such virtuosity,” (J. Deitch, “Jean-Michel Basquiat: Annina Nosei,” Flash Art, NewYork, March 1982, p. 183). Basquiat’s strong, magnetic character and his relentless energy defined this period of time where he was still on fringes of the establishment, well-known within the alternative circles, but not yet canonized through his later relationship with Warhol and other established luminaries. Making the transition from the street to the studio is a crucial component of Basquiat’s visual language during these early moments of his career. The nervous, frenetic, and fierce style that Basquiat cultivated was emblematic of his desire to know everything and express his accumulated knowledge through visual symbols. During the cultural sonic of the early 1980s, the artist’s style and iconography capture the charisma and dynamism with impressive authorial assuredness, negotiating the critical boundary between pictorial cacophony and compositional genius.This astounding energy in the nascent period of Basquiat’s artistic career would become a definitive strategy of creative deconstruction. Splicing and juxtaposing images and ideas from the two worlds he straddled during 1981 would eventually establish his signature style. Dominated by the figure of a large angel, rendered in sta
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