The present drawing is characterized by a direct and dense composition which concerns itself with one of Basquiat’s most dominant sources of inspiration, the “Street”: from basic hand drawn street signs, to the airplanes that flew overhead of those living in the vicinity of LaGuardia, to the milk truck and the ambulance, to the car accident. The central focus of the drawing is “King Car Service” – a local limousine service – presented like a symbol consisting of a framed car decorated with a crown.
Basquiat interrupts the structure of the larger composition with a series of seemingly spontaneous and rhythmically placed, but slightly stiff letters, some of which are individually encased in squares. Indicative of Cy Twombly’s “inimitable marks”, Basquiat demonstrates his own mastery of the line (R. Barthes, “Non multa sed multum” in R. Barthes, ed., Cy Twombly, Berlin, 1983, p. 26). With the addition of a precise poem along the upper edge - BEFORE WORLD WAR II LESS THAN A THIRD OWNED THER OWN DOGS OR HOT WATER – Basquiat references his earlier work as a graffiti artist. From 1977-1979 he worked in downtown Manhattan in partnership with Al Diaz under the pseudonym SAMO© where the two artist’s made a name for themselves with poetic, yet often critical phrases. Untitled has become a key work in Basquiat’s transition from “The Studio of the Street“ to the Gallery and Museum arena (Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1981: The Studio of the Street, exh. cat., Deitch Projects, New York, 2007).
Dieter Buchhart (translated from German)