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Jean-Michel Basquiat
Basquiat Gray 1980

1980

$24,000

About

Jean-Michel Basquiat (untitled) Gray 1980: Basquiat produced this exceptionally rare xerox collage during the early days of his band, 'Gray.' The piece emanates from the collection of fellow Basquiat band member and room-mate, Nicholas (Nick) Taylor; and was catalogued in, 'Jean-Michel Basquiat 1981: The Studio of the Street', pg. 113. The work is constructed much in the manner of Basquiat's well-documented, Anti-Product Post Cards and various other collage works of this period; whereby, in this instance, Basquiat draws over and hand embellishes a found image, then employs his famous William Burroughs style 'cut-up' technique; from here completing the piece by abstractly scrawling the word, 'Gray' above, complete with squiggly lines & markings similarly arising in other works from the period. Good condition. Excellent provenance. RARE. Not to be passed on. Medium: Color Xerox on paper. Dimensions: 8.5 x 11 inches; unsigned. The prose randomly appearing on the back side, is that of Nick Taylor's. Condition: Some fading commensurate with age & medium; scattered soiling marks and minor signs of handling; some bending to lower left corner; in otherwise good overall condition. Provenance: Obtained directly from a prominent Gray band member. COA provided by Lot 180 New York. Unsigned from an edition of unknown; scarce; few are known to have survived. Basquiat and Gray: A brief history: First called Channel 9, then Test Pattern, the Basquiat co-founded group, settled on the name "Gray", after Basquiat's fondness for the textbook Gray's Anatomy. Gray was an experimental New York Noise band defined by jazz improvisation, spoken word poetry, sound looping and everything in-between. Gray members included co-founder Michael Holman, Nick Taylor, Shannon Dawson, Wayne Clifford and eventually, Vincent Gallo. "Jean-Michel did all the posters for the band" (see Fretz, Basquiat A Biography p.40), and the group most notably played the likes of historic downtown clubs such as CBGB, The Mudd Club, Squat Theater and Hurrah's. The late Glenn O'Brien once noted that Basquiat approached music as a, 'Picasso-Charlie Parker-Miles Davis' collage. Basquiat who played clarinet, synthesizer and a number of hybrid-instruments, once said of Gray, "We were trying to be incomplete, abrasive, oddly beautiful." A description much in-line with the nature of his art going forward. Based on the nature of how 'Gray' is written, it is likely Basquiat was influenced by a mysterious religious driven women who key-scratched "Pray" on hundreds of New York City building doors and phone booths. Exhibitions: Featured in New York, New Music 1980-86: Museum of the City of New York (2021). Literature/References: - Jean-Michel Basquiat 1981: The Studio of the Street p.113; (Deitch Sirmans, & Vassell, 2007) - Jean-Michel Basquiat: A Biography, (Fretz, 2010) p. 39-41 - Featured in the Basquiat documentary, Radiant Child (d. Tamra Davis, 2009) Related Categories Basquiat Anti Product Postcards. Basquiat Xerox. Basquiat Gray. Basquiat Anti Baseball Cards.

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About the Artist

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Emerging from the New York City street-art scene, Jean-Michel Basquiat would become one of the most significant artists of the 20th century as he mixed hand-scrawled text, vibrant color, gestural brushwork and themes of social commentary in a prolific output of Neo-Expressionist paintings. Although his pieces always retained the improvisational energy of graffiti, Basquiat used deceptively uncomplicated motifs such as crowns and professional boxers to honor the majesty and power of Black men and place himself in that lineage. Today, Basquiat’s art is among the most expensive in the world, with his paintings regularly fetching tens of millions of dollars at auction.

Born in Brooklyn to a Haitian-American father and Puerto Rican mother, Basquiat’s parents treated him to regular visits to New York City museums and nurtured his early talent for drawing cartoons. When he was hit by a car while playing in the street, Basquiat’s mother gave him a copy of the lushly illustrated medical reference book Gray’s Anatomy. Later, human bones and body parts such as skulls and rib cages would prove potent as subject matter for his provocative and spirited visual explorations of social issues as well as his own vulnerability and the struggles he faced as a Black artist.

As a teenager, Basquiat spray-painted city bridges with friend Al Diaz, and their “SAMO” tag caught the eyes of local artists. He left home before he was 20, selling hand-painted sweatshirts and postcards in Lower Manhattan. Because Basquiat was homeless — sleeping in parks and girlfriends’ apartments — he couldn’t afford proper canvases, and instead transformed found materials, such as old doors and windows, with paint and layered paper. The works vividly juxtaposed a street-art style with forms inspired by Abstract Expressionism.

Basquiat’s first public exhibition was “The Times Square Show” in 1980, a landmark event for artists experimenting with the boundaries between the galleries and the streets, with pieces by Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer, Kenny Scharf and Kiki Smith. His art soon garnered critical acclaim as well as the attention of collectors. Basquiat’s first solo show was at Soho’s Annina Nosei Gallery, in 1982, with another that year at Larry Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles. His star continued to rise with multiple exhibitions in Europe, a 1983 feature in the Whitney Biennial and inclusion in a 1984 exhibition of painting at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. But he found that racist stereotypes persisted in press coverage of him, even as his profile expanded, and friends contend that he was exploited by collectors and art dealers. He battled a heroin addiction for years, and at the age of 27, Basquiat died from an accidental drug overdose on August 12, 1988.

Although it mainly spanned from 1980 to 1988, Basquiat’s career in visual art involved hundreds of paintings, drawings, sculptures, prints and other works. This included collaborations with Andy Warhol, with whom he created a series of paintings between 1983 and 1985. Basquiat’s art has been exhibited in almost every major art museum in the world, and in 2017 his 1982 Untitled painting was sold for $110.5 million at a Sotheby’s auction.

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