Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Portrait of the artist as a young wreck, 1982 is a stunning triptych conceived in the signature style of the artist. The work is rendered in acrylic, oil, grease pencil, and hardware on three wooden panels and spans a massive eighty-two inches. The leftmost panel is painted with a pastel green, and several iterations of the iconic Cool S are painted in red and black onto the surface along with other painterly marks in blue and white. The rightmost panel features an imposing portrait illustrated and black and red atop a field of grey. The center panel is larger than the panels on either side, and is rendered mostly in black and white. It features two of the artist’s signature crown illustrations, a tall building lined with windows, and depictions of dismembered body parts. The work, like many others of Basquiat, appears to be highly autobiographical and offers the viewer an intimate and exciting glance into the artist’s psyche.
Basquiat’s See Board 3, 1982 is a handmade box conceived of acrylic paint, oil paint, canvas and wood. The form is painted in black and white and seems to utilize motifs of isolation and frivolity. Phrases such as “HEAD OF A FRYER” and “SARCGPUGUS OF A PHYSICIAN” envelop the form and emphasize the haste and mastery of the artist’s hand. Along with Portrait of the artist as a young wreck, the work stuns viewers and showcases Basquiat’s characteristic style that energizes his legacy.
Both works were originally exhibited in 1982 at Basquiat’s first solo exhibition at FUN Gallery in Manhattan. On April 30th, 2022, both works were exhibited at Christie’s New York at the Rockefeller Center. The works have been curated in the same collection for several decades; however, they may have been exhibited together at the Rockefeller center for the last time in public. The works are expected to bring in an estimated $36 million.