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Art What!: Christie’s announces landmark Jean-Michel Basquiat auction

Screenshot 2021-02-12 at 5.49.29 PM

HONG KONG – On 23rd March, Christie’s will offer Basquiat’s landmark work, Warrior (estimated at HK$240,000,000-320,000,000/ US$31,000,000-41,000,000), in a live and livestreamed, single-lot evening sale entitled We Are All Warriors – The Basquiat Auction, to be held in Hong Kong in conjunction with Christie’s London sale week. The masterpiece represents the pinnacle of Basquiat’s creative output, and is poised to be the most expensive Western artwork ever offered in Asia.

Painted in 1982 at the height of his artistic power, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Warrior is a commanding and authoritative portrait that amply demonstrates why the artist is regarded as one of the most important painters of the last half century. The work will be offered in a sale format that highlights Basquiat’s international appeal, uniting collectors from different geographies and time zones, as the piece will be auctioned by Christie’s Global President Jussi Pylkkänen.

The forthcoming sale will be a milestone for the Western art market in Asia, speaking to Christie’s continued success in the region. The sale of Warrior follows a record-breaking season of 20th/21st Century Art sales in Hong Kong last December which showcased the strongest offering of Western artworks to date, and set phenomenal prices fuelled by Asian collectors.

Warrior is considered one of Basquiat’s finest creations and is part of a series created on panel in 1981-82, including La Hara and Irony of Negro Policeman. First exhibited at Akira Ikeda Gallery, Tokyo, in 1983, Warrior has been featured in numerous important Basquiat publications and exhibitions around the globe. In particular, it was one of the centerpieces of the 2019 blockbuster exhibition Jean-Michel Basquiat at the Brant Foundation Art Study Center in New York City. The work is a masterful example of when Basquiat’s artistic language reached maturity. Created as an absolute statement piece, it showcases his celebrated raw, exuberant energy, which permeates every inch of the composition.

The work depicts a powerful warrior in full length, wielding his silver sword, barreling his penetrating eyes directly towards the viewer. The Christ-like, gladiatorial figure is a crucial subject extensively explored by the artist in numerous sketches prior to this work. Basquiat was highly aware of the inequality in the sociopolitical environment and the absence of representation of black people in art history. Warrior can be interpreted as a semi-autobiographic work championing this creative vision as a black artist.

We Are All Warriors – The Basquiat Auction takes place on 23rd March 2021 at 10pm (HKT). More information available here

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