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Famed Jean-Michel Basquiat painting to travel to Seattle Art Museum
Untitled, 1982, Jean-Michel Basquiat, American, 1960–1988, acrylic, spray paint, and oilstick on canvas, 72 1/8 x 68 1/8 in., Yusaku Maezawa Collection, © 2018 The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat / ADAGP, Paris / ARS.

SEATTLE, WA.- The Seattle Art Museum announces the West Coast’s first museum presentation of American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat’s famed work, Untitled (1982). The special one-painting exhibition, Basquiat—Untitled (March 21–August 13, 2018) offers a rare opportunity to see this painting, which has never been publicly exhibited since its unveiling in 1982. Untitled comes to Seattle courtesy of collector Yusaku Maezawa, who recently acquired the work. SAM is the second stop of an international tour of the painting that began at the Brooklyn Museum, in the borough where the artist grew up. At SAM, Untitled (1982) will be on view in its galleries of modern and contemporary art.

“We are pleased to bring this extraordinary painting to Seattle,” says Kimerly Rorschach, SAM’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director and CEO. “It’s truly a unique opportunity to see work by Basquiat here in the Pacific Northwest. We are grateful to Mr. Maezawa for his passion for art, his great generosity, and his desire to share this important painting with our visitors.”

Mr. Maezawa adds, “Distance should neither restrain nor limit us. It was with this belief and the desire to bring people around the world one step closer to this masterpiece that I announced the world tour of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled. I am thrilled that residents and visitors to the West Coast of the United States will be able see this painting in person at the Seattle Art Museum, and I look forward to engaging with everyone before the painting heads off to Europe for the next leg of its tour.”

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) created Untitled at a critical juncture in his meteoric career. Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1960s and ’70s, Basquiat had an early interest in drawing, theatre, and music. As a young artist, Basquiat created the alter ego and signature SAMO (an acronym for Same Old Shit), spraypainting slogans and aphorisms on trains and buildings in Lower Manhattan.

Created in 1982, Untitled marks a decisive turn towards figurative painting by Basquiat, moving from works on the walls of the city to works on canvas. The visceral painting is dominated by a dramatically rendered skull-like head wearing a three-pointed crown. Fiercely alive against a bright blue background, the disembodied head appears to be talking or screaming. The painting captures a dynamic sense of flux and change, with the re-workings, redactions, and erasures of Basquiat’s vital artistic process remaining in the finished piece. Untitled is an electrifying work that shows the extraordinary vision of the young artist. 1982 was the beginning of Basquiat’s short but prolific career in art, which ended with his untimely death in 1988.

Following the tour of the painting, whose subsequent destinations are to be announced, Untitled (1982) will reside in a new museum that Mr. Maezawa is building in his hometown of Chiba, Japan.

Basquiat—Untitled will be on view concurrent with SAM’s major exhibition Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas (February 15–May 13, 2018), which presents bold perspectives on Black culture and representation from three generations of contemporary artists. It will also be on view at the same time as the fourth annual Seattle Art Fair (August 2–5, 2018).

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