1982 was a seminal year in the short, yet prolific career of Jean-Michel Basquiat. It is the year the young artist would turn 21, showcase work at the esteemed contemporary art exhibition Documenta, and created some of his most memorable work, including his Warrior series of paintings.
This October, Sotheby’s Asia will auction off an artwork from this series and is expected to garner around $19m USD to $25.7m USD. Untitled (Red Warrior) stands at six-and-a-half-feet wide and features a prominent red warrior figure at the center of the canvas — a graphic element that was in part inspired by Ogun, the warrior deity of the Yoruba people of West Africa.
Instead of the typically white warriors Basquiat would see depicted in museums as a child, the artist sought to feature a black protagonist in his paintings, having once stated that “black people are never portrayed realistically” in Modern art. “I’m glad that I do that. I use the ‘black’ as the protagonist because I am black.” The artist also tied in his deep knowledge of history, harking all the way back to the anatomical drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci.
Untitled (Red Warrior) will be auctioned alongside a number of works from a legendary cast of artists, including Joan Mitchell and Roy Lichtenstein to Chinese artists, Liu Wei and Yue Minjun. The auction will take place in Hong Kong from October 7 to 13.