U2 sells it’s 1982 Basquiat at Sotheby’s on July 1
Sotheby’s announces the inclusion of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled (Pejo/Oreja), estimated at between 4 and 6 million pounds, in the July 1 sale of Contemporary art. Owned by the band U2, whose frontman held the very successful Auction (Red) at Sotheby’s in New York earlier this year, the picture will get plenty of press because of its provenance. But celebrity ownership won’t determine the value as much as the Basquiat market. The current record is $14.6 million. This one has the potential to flirt with the record. But is it the much-anticipated $20-$30 million Basquiat that commentators like Josh Baer have predicted?
Here are the highlights from Sotheby’s press release:
The painting was first spotted by U2’s bassist Adam Clayton at the Robert Miller Gallery in New York. The band acquired Untitled in 1989, and it has since resided in their Dublin studio.
Oliver Barker, Senior Specialist, Sotheby’s Contemporary Art department, said: “It seems especially appropriate that a work by Basquiat should end up at a music studio, since so much has been said about the relationship between his art and music.”
Painted when the artist was just 22 years old, Untitled (Pecho/Oreja) exhibits a sublime combination of imagistic cacophony and compositional economy. The brilliantly delineated head, a motif that continued to underpin Basquiat’s work for the rest of his brief career, stands as both idiosyncratic self-portrait and skull-like talismanic call-sign. This painting was executed during 1982, a year of unprecedented success for the fledgling artist, having held his first solo exhibitions at major galleries including Gagosian in Los Angeles and Bruno Bischofberger in Zurich. Towards the end of that year, Manhattan dealer Annina Nosei became Basquiat’s primary dealer, and the artist moved into a studio in the basement of his new gallery. Here, he was at last able to paint freely and early on, he produced a prodigious group of masterworks.
Untitled (Pecho/Oreja) is scattered with the iconic marks and signs of Basquiat’s incomparable aesthetic vocabulary, characteristic of his best work from this early period. The highly stylized face evokes both the primitive scribbles of a child and the elaborate iconography of ancient African reliquary masks, both important influences on the young Basquiat who, like his hero Picasso, interrogated long-forgotten artistic traditions in his interpretations of contemporary visual culture.