The Two Legendary Masters Selling Exhibition

This November in Shanghai and Hong Kong, Sotheby’s S|2 is privileged to present LEGENDS: WARHOL/BASQUIAT, a selling exhibition showcasing compelling works by Andy Warhol and JeanMichel Basquiat. Marking the two legendary masters’ first joint exhibition in China, the show will debut at the inaugural Shanghai International Artwork Trade Month this November, which features West Bund Art & Design, ART021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair, and over a hundred art and cultural events. LEGENDS: WARHOL/BASQUIAT will be unveiled at West Bund Art & Design during 8 – 10 November 2019 and subsequently travel to Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery from 16 – 23 November 2019.

There are few artists who become true legends, and fewer legends who forge legendary friendships. Immortalised in art history is the epochal pairing between two of the late twentieth century’s greatest and most influential artists, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Lasting for six years from 1982 until Warhol’s death in 1987, the deep friendship was mutually inspiring for the two artists, whose highly distinctive oeuvres have each become eternally emblazoned within the highest echelons of fine art. 

 In honour of two extraordinary and intertwined lives, LEGENDS: WARHOL/BASQUIAT features a specially curated selection of works that powerfully captures the dynamic magic of 1980s New York, juxtaposing Warhol’s polished pop aesthetic against Basquiat’s singular raw expressionism.

Andy Warhol (1928 – 1987)

Born in 1928 Pennsylvania, Andy Warhol is widely recognised as the founder and leading figure of Pop Art, who had pioneered a combination of avant-garde and highly commercial sensibilities. Graduated in Pictorial Design from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1949, Warhol turned to painting and revolutionised the form conceptually and technically, producing works about mass produced goods and celebrities – such as his now iconic 1962 Campbell Soup Cans and Marilyn Diptych series. He used the silk screening technique, a process that removed evidence of the artist’s hand while allowing the repetition of an image with variations.

Starting in the early 1960s, his work explored the relationship between advertising, fame and artistic expression through media including painting, silkscreen, sculpture, film and photography. By the time of his death, he was one of the best-known artists in the world. With works that simultaneously satirized and celebrated materiality, fame and a voyeuristic personality with a clear taste for money and fame, Warhol shaped many subsequent generations of artists. His works are among the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and many others.

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960 – 1988)

Despite not receiving any formal art education, Brooklyn-born painter Jean-Michel Basquiat came out of New York’s vibrant downtown scene of the late 1970s to become one of the most influential and internationally renowned artists of the late 20th century. After dropping out of high school and leaving home in 1976, he attracted attention with the enigmatic graffiti he created under the name SAMO, befriending artists and downtown luminaries and beginning to paint and draw with more focused effort. In the mid-1980s, the artist collaborated on several works with the most famous artist of the time, Andy Warhol. His street art and Neo-Expressionist works are characterised by visually striking and psychologically powerful combinations of anatomical diagrams, charged words and cryptic phrases, numerals, pictograms and commercial graphic art. Dichotomies of social issues, as well as allusions to African history and African-American pop culture, are some of the themes commonly featured in his art. Basquiat’s works can now be found in museum collections around the world including The Broad, Los Angeles, the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, and The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. At Sotheby’s New York Contemporary Art Evening Sale in May 2017, Untitled, his masterpiece from 1982, sold for US$110,487,500 to an Asian private collection, setting a world record for a work by an American artist at auction at the time.

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