LAMA BLOG

Basquiat Drawing with Provenance Leads LAMA’s Fall Auction

August 27, 2020

Jean-Michel Basquiat | Untitled | 1987 | Est. $80,000-120,000

LOS ANGELES— Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA) is pleased to announce that its fall auction will take place October 18, 2020 via livestream to accommodate telephone, absentee, and online bidding. As LAMA’s largest and most robust auction of 2020, this event will offer an irresistible selection of works across styles and movements of the 20th and 21st centuries. Leading more than 200 lots is an exceptional untitled 1987 Jean-Michel Basquiat pencil and charcoal drawing from the collection of Becky Johnston.

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s rare interview in 1985 with Becky Johnston and Tamara Davis was the exchange that would anchor Davis’s 2010 film Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child. Completed in 1987 and once owned by Harry “Coco” Brown, the screenwriter and real estate developer, who then gifted the work to Johnston, Untitled is exemplary of the late artist’s channeling of “automatic” expressions into fragmented and potent cultural mosaics. In the storied interview, Basquiat cited the need for “source material” and noted that in addition to mining magazines and textbooks, he frequently worked “in front of the television.” The fruits of these media expeditions are especially visible in Untitled. With a sparseness somewhat uncharacteristic of Basquiat, Untitled showcases an orderly composition that invites the viewer down an actual pathway to methodically unpack its content. In the type of scrawl that Johnston described as “cryptic,” “political,” and “poetic,” Basquiat situates himself in a broad intercultural schema of revolutionaries and advertising campaigns with self-referential signs — such as “Fuego Flores,” the title of his 1983 painting — and a flurry of copyright symbols, the signature accompaniment to his SAMO moniker.

“It is an honor to represent this slice of art history, which is so full of the life and energy that Basquiat was so known for,” says Fine Art Specialist Clo Pazera.

Untitled (1987) will be auctioned as part of LAMA’s new livestreamed segment. This live no-audience event will expand the auction experience beyond online-only bidding while effectively accommodating Covid-19 safety measures.

“The October 18, 2020 live auction will present a survey of artists and designers that LAMA has championed and upheld since our establishment in 1992,” says LAMA President Shannon Loughrey. “This auction will build on our strong foundation of 20th century art and design with iconic works from Frank Gehry and Ed Ruscha, as well as modern masters like Alexander Calder, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Roy Lichtenstein. We’re also pleased to embrace contemporary artists, and will be offering lots from Mary Corse, Jacob Kassay, and Lari Pittman, among others.”

LAMA invites the public to view these works by appointment only October 5th to 17th, 10am to 6pm PST.  The livestreamed auction, which will accommodate online, telephone, and absentee bidding, will begin at 12pm PT on Sunday, October 18.

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Jean-Michel Basquiat
Untitled
1987
Colored pencil and charcoal on paper
Signed and dated in charcoal sheet verso
Composition/sheet: 42” x 29.5”

Provenance: Harry “Coco” Brown (acquired directly from the artist, 1987); Rebecca Johnston, California (gifted directly from the above, 1989)

Estimate: $80,000-120,000

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