All of Basquiat’s work, directly or indirectly, expresses his identity as an Black man in a predominantly white art world.

By Balthazar Malevolent


In their upcoming Contemporary Evening Sale Phillips will soon be putting up a monumental painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat for auction. Measuring six by eleven feet, the sprawling work entitled Victor 25448 was exhibited at the Vrej Baghoomian gallery in New York in Basquiat's last solo exhibition before his death in 1988. The large-scale paper on canvas work features several character graphics found in the 1972 Symbol Sourcebook by Henry Dreyfuss, as per ARTnews.

Victor 25448 by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

One of the most influential visuals in the neo-expressionist composition is the word "IDEAL" painted in the painting's middle. According to Robert Manley, Phillips' deputy chairman, the text relates to Basquiat's relationship with the art industry and dealing his works of art. "All of Basquiat's work, directly or indirectly, reflects his experience as a Black man in a world of primarily white art," Manley said. "Victor 25448 refers to the violence endured by Black people in different forms, and is also a representation of Basquiat himself."

Currently, Victor 25448 has a pre-sale estimate of between US$ 8 million and US$ 12 million. The Art for Justice Fund will benefit a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of the artwork — an initiative that seeks to reduce mass incarceration in the U.S. and is supported by collector Agnes Gund. The auction will take place on July 2.

*On February 10, 1985, in a feature titled "New Art, New Money: The Marketing of an American Artist," Basquiat appeared on the cover of The New York Times Magazine. Despite his creative success in this period, his emotional depression kept troubling him and would often cause him to start using heroin. Many of his peers speculated that his use of heroin was a way to cope with the demands of his new fame, the exploitative nature of the art industry and the pressures of being a black man in the world of white-dominated art.

Following his return from a trip to Hawaii, Keith Haring reports meeting Basquiat who was happy to tell Haring that he had finally kicked off his drug dependence. Despite attempts at sobriety, he died of a speedball overdose at his Great Jones Street art studio in the NoHo neighborhood of Manhattan on August 12, 1988. Basquiat was 27 years old.

British fashion designer Victoria Beckham, according to repute, is a big admire of Jean-Michel Basquiat work.

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