Jean-Michel Basquiat - Photographs London Wednesday, May 15, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    From the collection of Henry Jernigan 'Jay' Tobler, New York
    Private Collection, Europe

  • Catalogue Essay

    Here, we see a spray-painted photo-booth strip showing Jean-Michel Basquiat with his then girlfriend Paige Powell, which provides a rare glimpse into his dynamic multimedia practice. Likely taken in the early 1980s, this strip found its way into his studio as the second and fourth frames appear to have been intentionally blacked out with spray paint; the paint dripping down along the right edge suggests that the strip was hanging upright when it was sprayed. A double-sided narrative, featuring this seemingly happy couple, unfolds. In the first frame, they pose in an intimate embrace. The second frame is entirely obscured, the paint partially impinging on the third frame, which depicts a grinning Basquiat with his eyes closed as Powell kisses his cheek from behind. More than half of the fourth and final frame has been sprayed, leaving visible only her hat and sleeve.

    The photo booth, which was used by Warhol for his earliest experiments with photography, is the only known photographic tool that Basquiat incorporated into his creative practice. Early in his career in 1979, when he was just 18 years old, Basquiat, in collaboration with artist Jennifer Stein, produced a series of small collages with paint, ink, found materials and photo-booth portraits, which they photocopied then mounted on card to resemble postcards. Examples of these early mixed-media collages, as well as previously unseen film strips and photo-booth portraits were included in the 2017 exhibition Basquiat: Boom for Real at the Barbican Art Gallery in London.

    This photo-booth strip was originally in the collection of Henry ‘Jay’ Tobler (1966-2000), an art writer and gallery director who worked at Barbara Gladstone Gallery in the 1990s.

  • 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.

    View More Works


Self-Portrait with Paige Powell

likely 1982-1984
Unique gelatin silver photo-booth strip with black spray paint.
20 x 3.8 cm (7 7/8 x 1 1/2 in.)

£8,000 - 12,000 

Sold for £30,000

Contact Specialist
Genevieve Janvrin
Co-Head of Department, Photographs
Yuka Yamaji
Co-Head of Department, Photographs

General Enquiries
+44 20 7318 4087


London Auction 16 May 2019