Untitled (Standing Male Figure)

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  • Provenance

    Matt Dike (acquired directly from the artist)
    Thence by descent to the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Executed at the apex of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s prodigious career, Untitled (Standing Male Figure) seethes with the emotional expressivity and palpable energy that distinguishes it as an exceptional masterwork on paper. Created in the seminal years of 1982 and 1983, Untitled (Standing Male Figure) puts forth a raw and existential portrait of a full-length figure who confronts the viewer with a gaze that is equally tortured and prophetic. Drawn with confident felt-tip pen, crayon and pencil lines, the work speaks to the assured hand of a fully mature artist who at merely 20 years of age had burst onto the New York art scene, following his inclusion in the watershed Times Square Show in June 1980 and the New York/New Wave exhibition at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City in February 1981. Held in the collection of Matt Dike for over three decades, Untitled (Standing Male Figure) reminds us of Basquiat’s enduring legacy that is currently being celebrated at The Brant Foundation in New York.

    It was above all Basquiat’s re-introduction of the human figure into contemporary art that garnered him widespread acclaim. “Basquiat's canon,” as Kellie Jones has indeed noted, “revolves around single heroic figures: athletes, prophets, warriors, cops, musicians, kings and the artist himself” (Kellie Jones, “Lost in Translation: Jean-Michel in the (Re)Mix”, in Basquiat, exh. cat., Brooklyn Museum, New York, 2005, p. 43). Untitled (Standing Male Figure) presents us with such a single heroic figure, here rendered with dreadlocks that suggest it may in fact be a self-portrait of the artist. While the stick-like figure points to his fascination with comic books, it also points to the wealth of inspiration Basquiat found in ancient pictographs.

    Works such as the present one demonstrate the incredibly mature pictorial idiom of Basquiat’s breakthrough work, one that built upon his lifelong fixation with drawing. For Basquiat, drawing was akin to a performative act – it was not simply the means of working out pictorial solutions to be integrated into a painting, rather, each drawing presented a discrete work in of itself. The present work pulsates with the unbridled immediacy that the act of drawing provided him: the expressive lines evidence the swift and sure movements with which Basquiat would feverishly move his hand across the paper. It is in works such as Untitled (Standing Male Figure) that we recognize how, as Dieter Buchhart argued, “Basquiat’s works [in 1983] achieved their greatest complexity, in terms of both subject matter and artistic strategies” (Dieter Buchhart, “Against All Odds”, Now’s The Time, exh. cat., Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Bilbao, 2015, p. 20).

  • Artist Bio

    Jean-Michel Basquiat

    American • 1960 - 1988

    One of the most famous American artists of all time, Jean-Michel Basquiat first gained notoriety as a subversive graffiti-artist and street poet in the late 1970s. Operating under the pseudonym SAMO, he emblazoned the abandoned walls of the city with his unique blend of enigmatic symbols, icons and aphorisms. A voracious autodidact, by 1980, at 22-years of age, Basquiat began to direct his extraordinary talent towards painting and drawing. His powerful works brilliantly captured the zeitgeist of the 1980s New York underground scene and catapulted Basquiat on a dizzying meteoric ascent to international stardom that would only be put to a halt by his untimely death in 1988.

    Basquiat's iconoclastic oeuvre revolves around the human figure. Exploiting the creative potential of free association and past experience, he created deeply personal, often autobiographical, images by drawing liberally from such disparate fields as urban street culture, music, poetry, Christian iconography, African-American and Aztec cultural histories and a broad range of art historical sources.

    View More Works

Ο152

To Repel Ghosts: Important Works by Jean-Michel Basquiat from the Collection of Matt Dike

Untitled (Standing Male Figure)

felt-tip pen, crayon and colored pencil on paper
17 7/8 x 12 in. (45.4 x 30.5 cm.)
Executed circa 1982-1983.

Estimate
$700,000 - 1,000,000 

sold for $800,000

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261
jmccord@phillips.com

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale Morning Session

New York Auction 15 May | On View at 432 and 450 Park Avenue