Art Market

Rare paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Joan Mitchell will go on offer at upcoming Christie’s sales.

Justin Kamp
Sep 14, 2020 8:40PM, via Christie's

Jean-Michel Basquiat's MP, 1984. Courtesy Christie's Images Ltd. 2020.

Paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Joan Mitchell are among the works in “A New York State of Mind,” a private collection that will be sold across Christie’s upcoming 20th century evening and day sales, scheduled to take place on October 6th and 7th, respectively. The collection features works from a number of emblematic New York art movements, including Abstract Expressionism and Neo-Expressionism.

Basquiat’s MP (1984) leads the collection with an estimate of $4 million to $6 million. The vivid portrait of Basquiat’s acquaintance, Michael Patterson, contains many of the artist’s visual signatures, including photocopied text and complex symbology, but is an outlier among his work for featuring a real person as its central figure.

Also on offer is Mitchell’s Untitled (ca. 1958-1959), which carries an estimate of $3.5 million to $5.5 million. The work, which features Mitchell’s signature gestural strokes and strong color fields, hails from the artist’s final years in New York, before she permanently relocated to France for the remainder of her life. Both this painting and Basquiat’s will be on offer at Christie’s October 6th evening sale.

Johanna Flaum, head of Christie’s post-war and contemporary department, said:

In this moment, it is particularly exciting to be offering such a dynamic group of works from many of the artists who firmly rooted New York at the center of the global art world. From the lyricism of Joan Mitchell’s New York period, to the electricity of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s downtown art scene, this collection captures the unrelenting energy and beauty of New York City.

In recent months, works by both Mitchell and Basquiat have helped buoy this year’s unusual, largely virtual auction season. David Zwirner sold Mitchell’s work on paper, Pastel (1991) for more than $1 million at Art Basel’s online edition in June. Meanwhile, Basquiat’s Untitled (1982) broke the auction record for works on paper by the artist and was Sotheby’s highest online sale ever at a little over $15 million. Both artists were the top two lots sold at Phillips’s 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Auction.

According to Artsy data, the number of inquiries on works by Mitchell on the platform has steadily increased in recent years, more than doubling from 2016 to 2019; inquiries on her work this year have almost already surpassed last year’s total. Basquiat, meanwhile, has consistently ranked among the 15 most inquired-upon artists on Artsy, year over year, in the same period.

Further Reading: The Art Market Is Finally Catching Up with Joan Mitchell’s Genius

Further Reading: Why Basquiat’s Heads Are His Most Sought-After Works

Justin Kamp