Basquiat’s Rising Status

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A self-portrait by artist Jean-Michel Basquiat could sell for as much as $40 million in an upcoming auction, according to Christies, which has included “Untitled, 1982” in the lineup for its May 10 sale of contemporary and post-war art. The eye-popping estimate would make it the second time that a work by the Haitian-Puerto Rican artist has topped the $40 million mark. His “Dustheads” sold for $48.8 million in 2013.

The high prices confirm that Basquiat was arguably one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Despite his untimely death at age 27 in 1988 Basquiat continues to gain the attention of academia, the art world and the media. The last five years have seen a global resurgence around Basquiat’s legacy and artwork, with major exhibits in France, Spain, Canada and Jamaica. A square in Paris’ 13th arrondissement was recently named in his honor.

An all-day symposium on March 26 at the Metro Center in Brooklyn, co-sponsored by New York University, focused on the many facets of his legacy. BASQUIAT: STILL FLY @ 55  aimed to raise awareness of the legacy of Basquiat and his significant cross pollination in art, fashion, music and film. The title refers to Basquiat’s age if he had lived. The symposium brought those who knew Basquiat personally into conversation with scholars, artists and cultural critics with the goal of unraveling the many sides of Basquiat’s personal and professional life (from his collaborative work with Andy Warhol to his Caribbean identity).

Participants included Sandra Jackson-Dumont (The Metropolitan Museum of Art); Derrick Adams (Artist); Michaela Angela Davis (CNN Contributor); Staceyann Chin (Performing Artist/Poet); Yasmin Ramirez (CUNY); Greg Tate (Journalist); Dr. Kwami Coleman (Jazz Artist/NYU Gallatin); Fahamu Pecou (Artist); Michael Holman (Co-Founder of Basquiat’s Band, Gray); Al Diaz (Co-Founder of Basquiat’s SAMO graffiti tag); Cey Adams (Founding Creative Director for Def Jam Records/Graphic Designer); Dr. Suzanne Mallouk (Basquiat’s long-time girlfriend); Lee Quiñones (Artist) and Dr. Millery Polyné (NYU Gallatin).
The event was curated by Ja’nell Ajani & Ayanna Legros.