Jean-Michel Basquiat

Academic Study of the Male Figure (from the Leonardo series), 1983

Screenprint on Okawara rice paper
Unsigned with Blindstamp of the publisher
39 1/2 × 31 1/4 inches (100.3 × 79.4 cm.)
Very Good
Private Collection

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More information about this artwork

Jean-Michel Basquiat was an African-American painter, poet, musician and graffiti prodigy who has become one of the most prominent cultural figures and pop icons of the 20th century. Contrast and dichotomy were a hallmark of the work that he created in his short life, as he died of a heroin overdose at the age of 27. With a particular interest in the human experience, his pieces investigated the sharp contrasts in the world around us between black and white, wealth and poverty, inner and outer. Quickly ascending to the highest levels of the art world by the time he was 20, Basquiat used scribbled words, elusive symbols and recurring heads and skulls to reference socio-political issues, popular culture imagery, Biblical messages and his Caribbean heritage.

Academic Study of the Male Figure is part of the Leonardo series. Obsessed with the depiction of internal human anatomy, Basquiat found an artistic soul mate in the quintessential Renaissance man, who produced manuscripts which combined image, symbols and laborious annotations. This artistic symbiosis of illustration and text is at the heart of both artist’s emblematic practice. Basquiat holds the record for the highest price ever paid at auction for an American artist’s work.

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