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Lot 259: Jean-Michel Basquiat American, 1960-1988 Untitled (Skull), circa 1981

Post-War & Contemporary Art

by Doyle New York

01 November 2016

New York, NY, USA

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  • Jean-Michel Basquiat American, 1960-1988 Untitled (Skull), circa 1981
  • Jean-Michel Basquiat American, 1960-1988 Untitled (Skull), circa 1981
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Description: Jean-Michel Basquiat
American, 1960-1988
Untitled (Skull), circa 1981
Acrylic and paint marker on drywall
15 3/4 x 8 3/4 inches (40 x 22.22 cm)

We thank Ms. Annina Nosei for her assistance in cataloging this work.

The urban legends surrounding Jean-Michel Basquiat's studio in the basement of the Annina Nosei Gallery are often more myth than fact. Joining the gallery in 1980, Basquiat took up residence in the storage basement beneath the gallery at 100 Prince Street, carving out a space between a room with the gallery's storage racks and an area with massive skylights leaking through to the street above. Creating at a fever pitch, Basquiat took to the space and prepped for his inaugural 1981 show while Annina paraded notable collectors through the studio, selling freshly painted works. Stated by Jeffrey Deitch in a 1982 issue of Flash Art, Basquiat "is likened to the wild boy raised by wolves, corralled into Annina's basement and given nice clean canvases to work on instead of anonymous walls." The suggestion was at the time that Basquiat was mired in some sort of indentured servitude, being manipulated by the big business of fine art. While the relationship between Basquiat and Nosei was not perfect, the implications were louder than the facts, and those stories have only grown over time, even permeating into Julian Schnabel's 1996 bio-pic of Jean-Michel's life and career. The actual story was a good deal less sordid; as a young and eager Basquiat found in Nosei an able gallerist, as well as a functional space - stocked with materials. Circa 1981, "Untitled (Skull)" resided on the wall of Basquiat's studio space, just near the telephone and the doorway to storage racks. The art survived, by Annina's demand to not paint over the Basquiat. Basquiat's gestural skull was cut from the wall of Annina Nosei's gallery, and has survived as a final document of Jean-Michel's first studio and gallery.

Condition Report: Drywall was cut from a larger sheet. Work is affixed to backing.


Any condition statement is given as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Doyle New York shall have no responsibility for any error or omission. The absence of a condition statement does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from wear and tear, imperfections or the effects of aging.

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