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Low Pressure Zone
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Low Pressure Zone
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Low Pressure Zone

US
NY, US
US

About the item

Low Pressure Zone is a dazzling example of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s terse aesthetic, throbbing with a variety of impulses that inform his extraordinary means and forms of expression.  The present work neatly encapsulates his primary concern with the figure as well as reveals a direct engagement with the dichotomy between the organic mechanics of life and the intellectual dynamic of death.  Executed in 1982, Low Pressure Zone bridges the artists’ earliest period – paintings filled with his earliest motifs such as his preoccupation with death (as seen in skeletal figures and death-like masks) and street graffiti - and his middle period in which he began to use canvas with exposed stretcher bars, surfaces dense with writing and an expressive painterly gesture.   The later works also reveal a delving into Basquiat’s identity as a man borne into black and Hispanic roots.  After moving into a new studio in early 1982, Basquiat began to show a new and fiery intensity in his work.  Richard Marshall comments on the unique structures he began to use, “These canvas supports utilized four strips of wood molding, crossed at the corners and lashed together with twine.  The canvas was then stretched over the bars, leaving the corners exposed.  The effect was raw, askew, handmade – a primitive-looking object that recalled African shields, Polynesian navigation devices, Spanish devotional objects, and bones that have broken through the surface skin.  This construction also acted as a self-contained frame for the painting” (Richard Marshall, Jean-Michel Basquiat, New York, 1992, p. 18).\nThis visual reference of African and Island imagery, as well as his unique depiction of the human figure is a specific delineation of the black man, and his oeuvre is as much a continuing narrative about the position of the black man in the contemporary world as it is anything else.  These concerns background any consideration of the work as a contemporary Vanitas model, further stretching its intellectual boundaries.  Moreover, given the cultural status of this particular figure, one might suggest that we are presented with a Self-Portrait.  A possible direct reference to his Haitian roots is clearly executed to the right of the figure’s head.  “Hector” is written several times in the familiar grafitti-style letters and may allude to Hector Hyppolite, the father-figure of Haitian art.  He was a Voodoo priest, an artist and a decorator, who was discovered in 1945. André Breton and Wilfredo Lam were among those who projected Hyppolite onto the international stage as the first great Haitian painter. He died in 1948, at the peak of his fame, leaving a legacy that has inspired a whole school of Haitian painting and must have surely influenced Basquiat – who felt a specific and close affinity to the man.  Both men, chasing demons in both their art and their lives, lived short, yet prolific lives, to the fullest of their artistic abilities.  Basquiat, perhaps here faces his own mortality head on, and forces the viewer to engage with it as well.   The title Low Pressure Zone may refer to his use of art as an outlet of release, both psychologically and physically.  The mainly white male dominated art world was very high pressure – but Basquiat’s art was an aesthetic breather, a “low pressure zone” if you will, for both artist and viewer.\nAdditional influences on the painting’s structure can be accounted for as well.  Basquiat was constantly fascinated with anatomy and its graphic delineation, inspired as a child, when his mother gave him a copy of Gray’s Anatomy.  The precision and attention to detail in the face and rib cage is extraordinary.  His line, however is never flat, so that mass is always presented in concrete terms, even when he is economical in his drawing.  This connects Basquiat to Leonardo da Vinci’s studies of the body, especially his description of the mouth; Leonardo of course, being an artist that Basquiat was smitten with.   Basquiat’s ability to weave together influences from the Renaissance in Italy, to the 1980’s streets of New York City, provides for a rich tapestry of emotion shown through color, brushstroke and subject.   Low Pressure Zone is a beautiful example of the artist’s naked need to use art as a release and a prayer for his own humanity, as well as those around him.\nSigned, titled and dated Sept. 1982 on the reverse
US
NY, US
US

medium

Acrylic, oilstick and collage on canvas, mounted on tied wood supports

creator

Jean-Michel Basquiat

dimensions

59 5/8 by 48 in. 151.4 by 121.9 cm.

exhibition

Paris, Centre de la Vieille Charité, Jean-Michel Basquiat, July - October 1992 Paris, Galerie Enrico Navarra, Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1996

literature

Michel Enrici, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Paris, 1989, p. 55, illustrated in color Exh. Cat., Galerie Enrico Navarra, Jean-Michel Basquiat: Paintings, sculptures, works on paper and drawings, Paris, 1989, p. 27, illustrated in color Exh. Cat., Musée Cantini, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Une rétrospective, Marseille, 1992, p. 69, illustrated Galerie Enrico Navarra, ed., Jean-Michel Basquiat, 2nd Ed., Paris, 1996, Vol. 1, p. 249 (installation view at Galerie Enrico Navarra, Paris, 1996) and Vol. 2, pp. 90-91, illustrated in color Exh. Cat., Pinacoteca, Jean-Michel Basquiat. Pinturas, Sao Paulo, 1998, p. 43, illustrated Galerie Enrico Navarra, ed., Jean-Michel Basquiat, 3rd Ed., Paris, 1999, Vol. 1, p. 87 and Vol. 2, p. 109, illustrated in color Exh. Cat., Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Basquiat a Venezia, Venice, 1999, p. 67, illustrated in color

provenance

Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York Bonlow Gallery, New York Enrico Navarra Gallery, Paris Acquired by the present owner from the above

signedDate

Signed, titled and dated Sept. 1982 on the reverse

creator_nationality_dates

1960 - 1988


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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