Jean-Michel Basquiat - Editions & Works on Paper New York Tuesday, April 18, 2023 | Phillips
  • Basquiat’s Untitled: From Leonardo serves as a captivating reflection on the high renaissance anatomical studies of Leonardo da Vinci. Between seriousness and humor, expressive immediacy and historical distance, drawing and silkscreen, Basquiat presents a compelling set of five sketch-like prints through an unorthodox process. As gallerist and publisher of the edition Fred Hoffman recalls: 


    “[Untitled: From Leonardo] came into being as a result of somewhat unusual and insightful circumstances. In the course of working with Basquiat, I spent a great deal of time in the artist’s studio, often watching him paint the entire night. During this period, I came to learn of the artist’s interest in the work of Leonardo da Vinci. As a recent Ph.D in the History of Art, I knew that Jean-Michel would enjoy perusing through some of the books on Leonardo which I had collected. Having deposited a couple of these books in his studio, Basquiat mentioned to me that he would be interested in producing a print based on the work of Leonardo. In discussing this idea further, we decided that he would draw on clear acetates, transferring the images photographically to silkscreen and printing on whatever kind of paper he thought appropriate. I therefore delivered several sheets of acetate to the artist.  

    About a week later, I noticed that many of the acetates were lying on the floor of the studio, now integrated with sheets of drawing paper, photocopies of drawings, paints and oilsticks, along with music cassettes, cigarette butts and other ‘stuff’ from the artist’s immersion in his studio.

    In response to the status of the acetates, I offered to remove them from the floor and place them back on the wall. Jean-Michel quickly replied that he would like them left as they were. I found that curious, but having early on come to recognize Basquiat’s complete sense of direction and focus, I knew that he was not only aware of the condition of the acetates but also had a complete well-conceived plan in mind. Another week passed, and Jean-Michel said that the acetates, now again tacked to the wall, were ready for printing. Not only had the artist drawn images and texts on the acetates, but their life on the studio floor had become part of the completed images. The subtlety and delicacy of the images Basquiat produced, as well as the artist’s desire to more fully contextualize them with the drawings of the Italian master, led him to choose a beautiful Japanese rice paper for the presentation of his imagery. What was totally unexpected was how the random markings resulting from lying on the studio floor would not only complement Basquiat’s drawn images, but would also actually give these works a ‘patina’—as though they were as old as the sources they referenced.” 


    Leonardo da Vinci, The Vertebral Column (verso), a folio from 'Anatomical Manuscript A', c.1510-11, Royal Collection Trust. Image: Gravure Francaise / Alamy Stock Photo


    • Literature

      Dieter Buchart, Jean-Michel Basquiat - Now's The Time, The Art Gallery of Ontario and Delmonico Books, 2015, pp. 141-145
      Ars Publicata, Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1983.04 [3 and 4]

    • 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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Property from a Private Collection


Lot offered with No Reserve

Untitled (Two Portions of Bones); and Untitled (Plate 10), from Untitled: from Leonardo

Two screenprints in colors, on Okawara paper, the full sheets.
both S. 34 3/4 x 30 in. (88.3 x 76.2 cm)
Both numbered 5/45 in pencil on the reverse (there were also 4 artist's proofs), published by New City Editions, Venice, California (with their blindstamp), both framed

Full Cataloguing

$8,000 - 12,000 

Sold for $29,210

Contact Specialist
212 940 1220


Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 18 - 20 April 2023