Jean Michel Basquiat (December 22, 1960 – August 12, 1988) was the first African-American painter to become an international art celebrity. He began as a graffiti artist in the 1980s and evolved to become Neo-Expressionist artist. His works are still widely influential and sought after. Basquiat was the subject of a 1996 bio-film by Julian Schnabel. He began as an obscure graffiti artist in New York City in the late 1970s and evolved into an acclaimed Neo-expressionist and Primitivist painter by the 1980s.
Throughout his career Basquiat focused on "suggestive dichotomies," such as wealth versus poverty, integration versus segregation, and inner versus outer experience. Basquiat's art utilized a synergy of appropriation, poetry, drawing and painting, which married text and image, abstraction and figuration, and historical information mixed with contemporary critique. Utilizing social commentary as a "springboard to deeper truths about the individual", Basquiat's paintings also attacked power structures and systems of racism, while his poetics were acutely political and direct in their criticism of colonialism and support for class struggle.
Major exhibitions include “Jean-Michel Basquiat: Paintings 1981–1984” at the Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (1984), which traveled to the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, in 1985); the Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover (1987, 1989). The first retrospective was the "Jean-Michel Basquiat" exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art from October 1992 to February 1993. Another exhibition, “Basquiat”, was mounted by the Brooklyn Museum, New York, in 2005, and traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
The years 1984-85 were also the main period of the Basquiat–Warhol collaborations
In 2008, at Christie's, Ulrich sold a 1982 Basquiat piece, Untitled (Boxer), for US$13,522,500 to an anonymous telephone bidder. Another record price for a Basquiat painting was made on in 2007, when an untitled Basquiat work from 1981 sold at Sotheby's in New York for US$14.6 million. In 2012, for the second year running, Basquiat was the most coveted contemporary (i.e. born after 1945) artist at auction, with €80m in overall sales.That year, his Untitled (1981), a painting of a haloed, black-headed man with a bright red skeletal body, depicted amid the artist’s signature scrawls, was sold by Robert Lehrman for $16.3 million, well above its $12 million high estimate. A similar untitled piece, also undertaken in 1981 and formerly owned by the Israel Museum, sold for £12.92 million at Christie's London, setting a world auction record for Basquiat’s work.
Submitted: June 25th, 2013
Last Bid Date: June 26th, 2013