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Jean-Michel Basquiat
Basquiat Test Pattern

1979

$20,000

About

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Test Pattern, 1979 Rare highly sought-after Basquiat illustrated flyer to announce a performance by his band, Test Pattern (later renamed to Gray), at the much fabled downtown art space, “A’s", December 5th, 1979, 330 Broome Street, NYC. Basquiat's unique squiggly line, signature vertically spaced "E", use of random technical information, and text, sometimes crossed out, is already apparent in this most seminal early work. A much historic Basquiat illustration predating many of the artist's Anti Product Cards, this work was recently exhibited as part of the Basquiat: Boom For Real show in London. Solid condition. Excellent provenance. RARE. Offset print, 1979 8.5 x 11 inches Soiling marks; light surface creasing and fading; otherwise well-preserved and in good overall condition (no rips or tears). Provenance: obtained directly from a Basquiat Gray band-mate. COA provided from Lot 180 Gallery New York. Unsigned from an edition of unknown; rare with only known to have survived. Literature/References - Jean-Michel Basquiat 1981: The Studio of the Street; Jeffrey Deitch and Diego Cortez (2007) p.57 - Basquiat: Boom For Real; Buchhart, Nairne & Johnson (2017) p.147 - New York University Fales Library Collection Related Auction History Christie's Post War and Contemporary Art Day Auction July 1, 2010 London; records the sale of the original ink illustration (*incorrectly dated 1981) Exhibitions Basquiat: Boom for Real; Barbican London; September 2017-January 2018 Further background See 'Jean-Michel Basquiat: A Biography,' Fretz, 2010: “Jean-Michel did all the posters for his band. One of the early public performances was in December 1979 at A’s, a loft at 330 Broome Street... Arleen Schloss, the owner, also let Jean-Michel stay there at times and use it as a studio for his “MAN MADE” clothing… [The hand-drawn poster for the gig] is done in his recognizable style, with strange arrows and notations added underneath. Some of the words are crossed out, and there is a dotted line of ink splashed through the middle of the page. A photocopied micro-cassette finishes off the look, suggesting some kind of sound, but not conventional music.” Wednesday’s at A’s Arleen Schloss' “A’s,” was a legendary downtown performance space located at 330 Broome St., between Bowery and Chrystie (1979-1981). In 1979 the first band to play at A's was Jean Michel Basquiat's noise rock band Test Pattern - later renamed Gray. Gray included fellow bandmates/artists Michael Holman, Shannon Dawson, Nick Taylor, Wayne Clifford and Vincent Gallo. It was here, also, in October of the same year, where Basquiat is said to have unveiled his SAMO© color Xerox work. Said, Schloss, in 2001, "Jean-Michel basically opened the place by playing with his band...I remembered he played in his pajamas... He made a lot of stuff here, painting T-shirts on the floor etc." Related Categories Basquiat Anti Product Postcards. Basquiat Xerox. Michael Holman and Nick Taylor. Basquiat Gray. Basquiat Music. Basquiat Mudd Club.

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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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