Head, from Portfolio I

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  • Catalogue Essay

    Basquiat’s thematic fixation on the head can be seen throughout his body of work—this is yet another iconic example of a motif that he visited and revisited during his tragically short career. The language of this image is reminiscent of 16th and 17th century vanitas still lifes that often incorporated skulls allegorizing the finality of death. Basquiat builds on this visual lineage while also exploring his own themes and interests. The figure displayed in this print is not quite a skull yet not quite a fully fleshed human; the head depicted exists in a liminal space. The exterior blue and brown lines suggest the presence of skin while the milky white interior seemingly depicts the color of its skull. Black wavy lines throughout the interior of the head bring to mind the grooves of the brain. The print is emblematic of Basquiat’s interest in dualities; in this instance life and death, interior and exterior, and light and dark.

94

Head, from Portfolio I

1983/2001
Screenprint in colors, on heavy wove paper, the full sheet.
S. 39 7/8 x 39 7/8 in. (101.3 x 101.3 cm)
Numbered 'HC 15/15' in pencil (an hors commerce, the edition was 85 and 15 artist's proofs), signed and dated '11-19-01' by Gerard Basquiat (Administrator of the Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat) in pencil with the Estate stamp on the reverse, published by De Sanctis Carr Fine Art, Los Angeles, framed.

Estimate
$30,000 - 50,000 

sold for $81,250

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Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 24 April 2018