Jean-Michel Basquiat - Contemporary Art London Thursday, June 21, 2007 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Marisa del Re Gallery, Inc., New York; Galerie Thomas, Munich; Grimpel &
    Weitzenhoffer, Ltd., New York; Private collection, Europe

  • Catalogue Essay

    In many of his paintings, and also in the drawings, the body is torn apart and grimacing: a lesson in anatomy, a real medical dictionary that, as we know, Basquiat always had on him. Snatches of meaning, bits of words, mandibles and bones: everything passes through and passes away. Masks and faces engage in a macabre dance. Death is disguised, ectastic… Sometimes the phrases, sentences, texts are longer. These are poems like maxims traced hastily on city walls. Sometimes the entire painting is a rebus, a hieroglyph… From writing to drawing, from paint to a piece of bravery, Basquiat worked literally with what he could get his hands on… In this respect, did Jean-Michel Basquiat produce what anthropologists call propping objects? Did he leave us enough to resist the savage pressure of society? Was he overcome by too many addictions? As we look at the best of his work, these questions are repeatedly asked, so much so that we can’t get them out of our mind.
    B. Blistène, “The Crown, the Seal and the Copyright. Notes on a
    Black Face Soap”, B. Blistène, R. Marshall, E. Ochoa, and R. F. Thompson,
    Jean-Michel Basquiat Works on Paper, Paris, 1999, p. 23.

  • Artist Biography

    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.

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Pure at Heart

circa 1982
Mixed media on paper.
29 1/2 x 19 5/8 in. (74.9 x 49.8 cm).

£300,000 - 400,000 

Sold for £378,400

Contemporary Art

22 June 2007, 4pm & 5pm