Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988)
Acrylic and oilstick on Canvas - 78 x 68 in, 198 x 173 cm
Estimate in the region of $20 million
October 4, 2012 - source: Christie's
The impressive work has been in the same private collection for almost two decades, and is regarded as one of Basquiat’s ultimate masterpieces from the beginning of his career alongside Untitled (Scull) 1981, from the Broad Collection. The work has been featured prominently in every major Basquiat retrospective, including the recent survey at the Beyeler Foundation and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.
"Untitled" is a remarkable and important early example of the potency of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s unique artistic language. Painted in 1981, as the artist emerged from the underground world of street art into the adulation of the New York art scene, this monumental painting displays the powerful iconography and painterly energy that enraptured both critics and collectors alike until the artist’s untimely death seven years later at the age of just 27.
Whereas in later paintings, in which the artist depicted figures representing some of his childhood heroes such as Sugar Ray Robinson, Casius Clay and Joe Louis, Untitled features a figure that remains a mysterious apparition, which appears to be an amalgamation of characters from Basquiat’s own vivid imagination made up from a heady concoction of observations of New York life mixed together with the rich symbolism of his Haitian and Puerto Rican heritage.
"The market has been waiting a long time for a work of this caliber and freshness, therefore we expect it to set a new record for Basquiat, an artist who is in the process of being recognized as a classic of Post-War American Art alongside Warhol, De Kooning and Pollock", said Loic Gouzer, International Specialist of Post-War and Contemporary Art.