ANDY WARHOL & JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT (1928-1987 & 1960-1988)
ANDY WARHOL & JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT (1928-1987 & 1960-1988)
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ANDY WARHOL & JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT (1928-1987 & 1960-1988)


ANDY WARHOL & JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT (1928-1987 & 1960-1988)
acrylic, oilstick and silkscreen ink on canvas
20 x 16in. (51.2 x 40.6cm.)
Executed in 1983-1985
Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich.
Dau Al Set, Barcelona.
Private Collection, Obarrio.
Anon. sale, Christie's New York, 10 May 2006, lot 517.
Galerie Enrico Navarra, Paris.
Private Collection, UK.
Anon. sale, Christie's New York, 14 May 2014, lot 479.
Private Collection, Chicago.
Anon. sale, Christie’s New York, 16 November 2017, lot 904.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Barcelona, Dau Al Set, Els Anys 80's Internacional, 1988 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).

Brought to you by

Claudia Schürch
Claudia Schürch Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

The 1980s New York Downtown scene was a place of frenzied collaboration. None was more exhilarating than the one between Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, two of the era’s leading lights. The present Collaboration (1983-1985) captures their partnership in full flourish. It features one of Warhol’s iconic Dollar Sign silkscreens in orange, black and shimmering gold, which Basquiat has adorned with a sweep of green paint and a luminous face—possibly a self-portrait—in lines of black, white and red oilstick. The dollar sign was Warhol’s ultimate symbol, an emblem of both his own practice and of the United States. Philosopher Arthur C. Danto wrote, ‘We are all preoccupied with money, and, in its way, [Warhol’s] ... dollar sign is as much an emblem of America as the flag’ (A. C. Danto, ‘Andy Warhol Enterprises,’ in Andy Warhol, New Haven 2009, p. 129). The portrait head was one of Basquiat’s own trademark motifs, a method of imprinting and affirming his own identity. Combining Warhol’s slick, controlled style with Basquiat’s youthful rawness, this Collaboration offers a vivid distillation of the two artists’ 1980s practice and their electrifying partnership.

The artists’ collaboration was sparked by a brief encounter. On 2 October 1982, art dealer Bruno Bischofberger invited Basquiat to lunch at Warhol’s Factory. Basquiat was a rising star, who, aged just twenty-one, had already set the international art world aflame. He had just become the youngest artist to ever take part in Documenta. Warhol was the grand master of Pop Art and the reigning figure of New York’s art scene. The meeting was brief. Warhol took a Polaroid of the two artists standing together. Basquiat missed lunch and ran back to his studio. Two hours later, his double portrait painting Dos Cabezas, based on the photograph, arrived at the Factory. Fuelled by mutual admiration and creative ardour, the two soon began working together. They would create around 160 works in less than three years. Earlier this year, their collaboration was the subject of the critically acclaimed exhibition Basquiat x Warhol. Painting 4 Hands at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris.

These collaborative ‘four hand’ pieces often began with a Warhol silkscreen which Basquiat would then overpaint. The two artists sought to combine their voices into one. In the present Collaboration, Basquiat’s lines echo the hatched black layer of the dollar sign—itself originally drawn by Warhol, then replicated through the silkscreen. He blurs his own marks with those of the older artist, and, perhaps, makes a wry nod to his own entanglement with the world the dollar represents. As their friend and contemporary Keith Haring said: ‘Jean-Michel and Andy had achieved a healthy balance. Jean respected Andy’s philosophy and was in awe of his accomplishments and mastery of colour and images. Andy was amazed by the ease with which Jean composed and constructed his paintings and was constantly surprised by the never-ending flow of new ideas’ (K. Haring, quoted in S. Belmont, ‘With “Warhol x Basquiat”, Fondation Louis Vuitton Examines One of Art History’s Greatest Collaborations Anew’, Art News, 5 March 2023).

The duo could be irreverent: Warhol created silkscreen works featuring a nude Basquiat in the posture of Michelangelo’s David, while Basquiat painted Warhol as a banana. ‘The entire group,’ writes critic Jackie Wullschläger, ‘reads like an extended conversation, veering between chatter, jokes, evolving thoughts, flashes of insight and outbursts of monologue’ (J. Wullschläger, ‘Basquiat x Warhol at Fondation Louis Vuitton—sparks fly in dazzling collaborations’, Financial Times, 6 April 2023). Their relationship was founded on enormous respect. ‘I’d never seen Andy so close with anyone,’ recalls art dealer Jeffrey Deitch, ‘and I’d never seen Jean so close with anyone—these guys really loved each other’ (J. Deitch, quoted in H. Shepherd, ‘Warhol and Basquiat: The Art World’s Most Notorious Bromance’, Sleek, 6 September 2017). Warhol let no other artist alter and efface his own silkscreens. Emblematic of both Warhol and Basquiat’s unique energies, Collaboration stands as testament to an intimate partnership between two artistic trailblazers.

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