Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled (1982) from the collection of U2’s bassist Adam Clayton is to be a major highlight of Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art evening auction in London on March 7. Held for over twenty-five years in Clayton’s collection, Untitled featured on the front cover of the catalogue for the exhibition Basquiat Drawings held in 1990 at The Robert Miller Gallery in New York. A deeply poignant self-portrait, the work offers a rare insight into Basquiat’s psyche at a pivotal moment in his career: a tear drops from his eye; his arms seem to pierce his body like an arrow. Basquiat depicts himself as a martyr: a Saint Sebastian-like figure for the contemporary age. It is estimated at £1-1.5 million.
Adam Clayton: “There was a group of them – there was Basquiat, there was Keith Haring, and obviously Warhol was the granddaddy of the whole movement. The idea that these young painters without any gallery experience could make their mark on the streets of New York – could go to the hippest night clubs, could mix with musical culture – was very exciting to me. It was where I came from – I always thought music and art went hand in hand together.”
Francis Outred, Chairman and Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art EMERI: “On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of U2’s Joshua Tree, an album which was a thorough exploration of the band’s political and spiritual relationship with the United States, it is a rare privilege to showcase this work which Adam Clayton acquired during his first months of moving to New York. Unlike other self-portraits by Basquiat it articulates his fragility as a figure who is coming to terms with his new position in the world and injects the deepest pathos into the narrative of his dramatic trajectory from anonymous graffiti artist to international art superstar.”