Sotheby’s has announced another set of works to drive interest in its Contemporary evening sale, which will take place on June 29. The livestreamed remote auction will feature a control center format to offer its selection of works. Among the leading works to go up for auction is Basquiat’s Untitled (Head), a work on paper slated with an estimate of $9 million to $12 million.
The piece features one of Basquiat’s most widely recognized motifs, one that closely resembles a 1981 painting that resides in The Broad collection in Los Angeles. In 1981, at age twenty, Basquiat began producing images of skull-like heads throughout his drafts—depictions that allude to African art. The writing that was a feature of his practice and his scrawling method that bears the influence of graffiti brought to the market in the 1980s a new visual expression that combined street art and the art historical canon. The untitled piece here was first showcased in November 1990 at the Robert Miller Gallery in New York, following the artist’s death. The posthumous show exhibited a total of 142 drawings. The work on offer comes from 1982, the formative year in which Basquiat produced his most valuable works.
“There is a sense of urgency and immediacy in this painting,” said Grégoire Billault, head of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Department in New York, describing it as a “prescient work that captures and defines 1980s New York, demonstrating the young artist’s profound psychological awareness.”