Tommy Hilfiger is selling a clutch of Pictures at Phillips. The top lot is a late Basquiat from 1987 alongside a Hirst stained glass window, a Keith Haring, Jean Dubuffet and a few others. The Bssquiat is estimated at $3-5m:
Leading the collection is Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled (Devil’s head). Painted in 1987, just a year prior to his untimely death, this work exhibits Basquiat’s distinct aesthetic vision and characteristic subject matter: the skull. Here, Basquiat offers two mirrored skulls in black, white and blazing red, one echoing the other in asymmetric balance. In 1987, the artist had just witnessed the death of his dear friend and contemporary Andy Warhol, and was just a year from his own. The darkness in his life that prevailed might explain the meditative backgrounds of this late work, and the motifs of death and the devil. Aesthetically, the present lot reflects the artist’s two key influences present throughout his oeuvre. The skull harkens back to one of Basquiat’s first sources, a book on anatomy given to him by his mother in 1968. While abstract, Basquiat’s skulls are rendered with a semblance of scientific accuracy in their structure and emphasis on the individual parts that make up the body. Untitled (Devil’s head) also harkens back to the art historical canon with which Basquiat was so fascinated, not only in the tribal motifs of the skulls, but also in the metallic surface of the background, which recalls Renaissance compositions and Byzantine mosaics.