Jean-Michel Basquiat - Contemporary Art Part II New York Friday, May 16, 2008 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Gifted by the artist to the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Jean-Michel Basquiat combined all aspects of his life into his art, translating explorations of urban black culture, music, religious iconography and ideas of his own Caribbean roots into statements about class struggle, tyranny, everyday life and mortality. Deeply influenced by graffiti and the freedom enjoyed by New York City street artists of the 1980’s, Basquiat repopulated their universe with classical symbols, among them skeletons and animals, as well as contemporary imagery, with body parts, scientific formulas and diagrams.
    Drawing remained one of Basquiat’s key mediums throughout his career.  Showing a solid grasp of varied art materials, he used oil pastels, oil paint stick, markers, crayons and pencil prolifically. Basquiat’s works on paper display the same raw energy that characterizes many of his important large canvases. Untitled (Bird) is rendered in the artists’ typically rough, scratchy style. The winged animal is a recurring leitmotif throughout his oeuvre, occurring as a proud symbol of freedom and artistic independence.  Similarly in Fallen Angel, the 1981 oil on canvas to be offered in May 15, 2008 Phillips Part I sale, metaphors of flight are explored. Whereas that canvas speaks to the artist’s preoccupation with religious iconography and communicates his dismay with an ongoing futile fight against ideological oppression, Untitled (Bird) is a bright expression of creative autonomy.

  • 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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Untitled (Bird)

Oil, pastel and graphite on paper. 
24 x 17 in. (61 x 43.2 cm).
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from the Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. 

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $103,000

Contemporary Art Part II

16 May 2008, 10am & 2pm
New York