After Jean-Michel Basquiat - Evening & Day Editions London Thursday, September 21, 2023 | Phillips
  • “I was a really lousy artist as a kid. Too abstract expressionist…really messy. I’d never win painting contests. I remember losing to a guy who did a perfect Spider-Man.”
    —Jean-Michel Basquiat

    A striking example from Jean-Michel Basquiat’s celebrated oeuvre, Riddle Me This Batman (1982-87/2022) is a screenprint reproduction of the 1987 canvas of the same title, which depicts longtime comic characters Batman, the Joker and the Riddler. Executed only a year before the artist’s untimely death at the age of 27 in 1988, the present lot embodies the chaotic nature of Basquiat’s later years. An energetic mix of confusion and composition, Riddle Me This Batman situates the Joker and the Riddler at the centre of the canvas. The Joker flaunts his iconic and unsettling toothy grin, while the Riddler is portrayed clutching a bottle of alcohol, perhaps alluding to Basquiat’s worsening addiction. Both supervillains are surrounded by delirious evil laughter, suggesting their twisted sense of humour. In comic books, the Riddler regularly poses his riddles to Batman with the question “Riddle me this Batman?” and at one point asks: "riddle me this, riddle me that, who's afraid of the big black bat?". Scattered with ambiguous words and symbols, one cannot help but wonder about the autobiographical nature of Riddle Me This Batman.


    Riddle Me This Batman is part of the Superhero Portfolio – an edition comprising four screenprints of Basquiat’s original canvases featuring the artist’s personal heroes and idols. Taking inspiration from popular comic characters and symbols, Basquiat depicts Batman, Robin, and Flash alongside his iconic gestural marks and text. The series evokes a childlike spontaneity, while simultaneously showcasing a distinct awareness and command over composition. Combining bold colours and expressive brushwork, this portfolio exemplifies the unique style for which Basquiat is famed, while also symbolising the artist’s status as one of the most significant artists of his generation.



    • Provenance

      Private Collection, London


Riddle Me This Batman, from Superhero Portfolio

Screenprint in colours, on Saunders Waterford paper, the full sheet.
S. 102 x 102 cm (40 1/8 x 40 1/8 in.)
Numbered ‘AP 12/20’ in pencil on the front (an artist’s proof, the edition was 85), signed and dated ‘6/22/2022’ by Lisane Basquiat and Jeanine Heriveaux in pencil (the artist's sisters and administrators of the Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat) on a stamped Certificate of Authenticity on the reverse, published by Flatiron Editions, New York, framed.

Full Cataloguing

£45,000 - 55,000 

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Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 21 - 22 September 2023