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  • Provenance

    Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York
    Mary Boone, New York
    Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills

  • Exhibited

    New York, Mary Boone and Michael Werner Gallery, Jean-Michel Basquiat, March 2 – March 23, 1985

  • Catalogue Essay

    "The way he would hold the pencil sometimes was like he was a cripple. He wouldn't hold it in a formal way. He would stick it through the fourth finger and look really awkward, so that when he drew, the pencil would just slip out of his hand. He'd let it go that way, then grab it and bring it down, then let it drift. It was amazing, this whole dance he did with the pencil." (Fab 5 Freddy quoted in I. Sischy “Jean-Michel Basquiat as Told by Fred Braithwaite, a.k.a Fab 5 Freddy,” Interview (October 1992) p. 119)

    Untitled, executed in 1982, succinctly captivates the exuberance and vivacity of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s artistic expression during a pinnacle stage of his career. Beginning in 1982, as he garnered further critical acclaim, the artist slowly began to pull away from the heavy street-inflected influence that encapsulated his early paintings and initiated his unique archetype of the human figure. Influenced by Jean Dubuffet's child-like Art Brut, Basquiat executes his figure with ragged simplicity coupled with his free-hand explosive visceral gestures that endow his drawings with rawness and immediacy. Works on paper are often thought as supplementary works to the opus of the artist in a historical context. It can, however, rightly be argued that Basquiat compositions on paper match the visceral, energetic essence of his canvas works: “Drawing was an essential element in the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat. The artist made no hierarchical distinction between drawing and painting, and in fact, his paintings and drawings are often indistinguishable, and only differ in their paper or canvas support”, (R. D. Marshall as quoted in Enrico Navarra, ed., Jean-Michel Basquiat: Oeuvres sur Papier, Paris, 1999, p. 30). The frenzied gestures that will come to epitomize Basquiat’s iconic painterly aesthetic are clearly evident in this early drawing with its flat and smooth surface of the paper welcoming his spontaneous and expressionistic style. An evocative combination of gestural red lines and vibrant yellow, Basquiat’s grimacing Untitled figure manifests the dynamic presence of both its subject and creator.

  • 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. 

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oil stick and crayon on paper
30 x 22 3/8 in. (76.2 x 56.8 cm.)
Signed "Jean Michel" on the reverse. This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by the Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat and signed by Gerard Basquiat.

$300,000 - 500,000 

Contact Specialist
Zach Miner
Head of Evening Sale
[email protected]
+1 212 940 1256

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York 11 November 2013 7PM