Christie's Summer in Aspen: "Off the Wall: Basquiat to Banksy" open July 3-15

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Christie's Summer in Aspen: "Off the Wall: Basquiat to Banksy" open July 3-15
KAWS (B.1974), UNTITLED. Acrylic on canvas, 16 x 16 in. (40.6 x 40.6 cm.) Painted in 1999. © Christie's Images Ltd 2021.

ASPEN, CO.- Christie’s announces the inaugural selling exhibition for its Summer 2021 Aspen residency, Off the Wall: Basquiat to Banksy (July 3-15).

Bringing together the cult figures of the 1980s with the counter-cultural artists of today, Off the Wall celebrates the contemporary explosion of these expressions that have morphed into global phenomena, chartering a course from post-punk New York to millennial Britain, and beyond. From the punchy and political to the sly and subversive, Off the Wall celebrates the negotiation between street and studio over nearly half a century.

From the vigorous marks of Basquiat to the iconic motifs of Banksy, this exhibition seeks to recreate the buzzing energy of the streets. Highlighting the selling exhibition are works by Basquiat, Banksy, KAWS, and Keith Haring.

Emily Kaplan, Senior Specialist of Post-War and Contemporary Art, “In 1981, Jean-Michel Basquiat became one of the first graffiti artists to conquer the gallery world, shedding his pseudonym SAMO and infusing his paintings and drawings with raw, metropolitan grit and energy. Highlighting the exhibition in Aspen is Basquiat’s Untitled canvas from 1984, an energizing culmination of Basquiat’s wall-writing and iconic use of symbolism, punctuated by his iconic skull and crown motifs.”

Alongside Basquiat emerged a new breed of practitioners such as Keith Haring, who made his names on subways and billboards before taking their place within the thrilling creative milieu of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. In the same neighbourhood, painter Martin Wong’s practice shifted from painting street portraits as the self-appointed “Human Instamatic,” towards visual poetry of downtown living.

Gradually, street artists began to operate on a global scale. Corporations and brands such as Absolut Vodka first began their artist collaborations in 1986 with Andy Warhol, who later recommended Keith Haring for a later product and campaign. Beginning as the rebel, illegally filling subway advertisement spaces with his artwork, Haring’s venture in participating in a product and advertisement with Absolut upended the notion that street art stood at the outskirts of contemporary society. In the aughts, Banksy adopted stenciling and graffiti as a method to challenge our socio-political status, painting on sites ranging from London’s Southbank to the West Bank wall. KAWS’ tagged additions to street advertisements, which began to include his iconic Companion and appropriated cartoon characters, would go on to inspire toys, furniture and international clothing lines.

Kat Widing, Specialist of Post-War & Contemporary Art, “Underpinning these practices is a belief that art blossoms from the inspiration of the everyday and should be for everyone. Art does not need to just exist within a museum. It should be lived with, enjoyed and discovered within the everyday. The works in this exhibition affirm that art is at its best when permitted to roam freely and immediately among us: that its true power resides off the wall.”

Off the Wall: Basquiat to Banksy will be open to the public from 11am - 5pm, Monday to Saturday, July 3 to Thursday, July 15. Please contact for further details or to arrange a guided visit with Christie’s on-site specialists.

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