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By Jean-Michel Basquiat
Diptych; acrylic and oil stick on panel
Size: 182.8 x 244 centimetres (72 x 96 inches)
Estimated price: £15 million
Untitled, an impressive large-scale double portrait by Jean-Michel Basquiat from 1982, a pivotal year in the artist’s career, forms part of the series of important double portraits, including Untitled (Two Heads on Gold) and Dustheads.
The full-length double portraits of 1982 marked Basquiat’s coming of age in the art world. In 1982 he was 21, had just met his idol, Andy Warhol, and the success of his gallery show at Annina Nosei that March gave him a new-found freedom enabling him to earn a living from his paintings. The cartoonish figures in this work evoke the joyous spirit of this heady time when he had just broken through to art world superstar status. Towering above the viewer, this painting is striking for its monumental scale, the decisiveness of Basquiat’s line and the sheer brilliance of his signature colour palette of vibrant red, electric blue and blaring yellow.
Boldly articulated in Basquiat’s confident scrawl, Untitled is a defiant assertion of artistic and individual independence, expressing a confidence to match his new-found fame. Its two figures, with their rhythmic movements and screaming features evoke the chaotic energy of the New York underground scene in which the artist was immersed. Basquiat painted impulsively, pouring out his creativity in a cathartic stream of pent-up emotion. Working quickly in oil stick and acrylic, he combined drawing and painting in a graffiti-like style to create a fresh medium he called ‘extra-large’. Untitled exemplifies this explosive, ‘extra-large’ sensibility, with a raw and spontaneous painterly energy that echoes the urban hubbub of 1980s New York and hints at the inspiration Basquiat found in and around his downtown studio.
Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale will take place in London on Tuesday, June 25, 2013.
For more information please visit www.christies.com
First published in the Adbuzzzz section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on June 16, 2013.