Sotheby’s has announced that it will offer Yoko Ono’s painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat called Cabra from 1981-82. The work has an estimate from between $9 to $12m and will be sold on November 16th in New York:
Acquired from Tony Shafrazi Gallery in New York in 1993, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Cabra has been publically exhibited only twice prior to the unveiling in Hong Kong: in Basel at the Fondation Beyeler and Paris at the Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris. In fact, the bold and vibrant work is best known from an image of Basquiat’s studio, in which it is staged immediately to the right of the artist’s easel.
At first glance, it is the striking crimson hue of Cabra that sets this painting apart from other works of Jean-Michel Basquiat. However, upon closer inspection, the brilliant mind of this contemporary artist comes into full view. Executed at a time when Basquiat was exploring his Haitian and Puerto Rican roots, and becoming increasingly interested in the power and scrutiny of black athletes, the
present work belongs to a group of paintings inspired by boxing icons including Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Jersey Joe Walcott and more. Cabra is unique in its articulation of a historic evening in 1970 when Muhammad Ali – the greatest of all time – knocked out revered heavy-weight fighter Oscar Bonavena, also known as ‘The Bull’. The iconic boxing ring, the hieroglyphic ‘TKO’ above the bull’s skull and, finally, the clever play on words – Cabra is Spanish for ‘goat’ or GOAT, shorthand for the Greatest of All Time, Muhammad Ali – all add to this physiologically searing and visually-moving painting of one of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s long-time heroes.