Basquiat Drawings Among Highlights at Spring Masters

Spring Masters, the revamped edition of The Spring Show NYC, descends upon New York’s Park Avenue Armory this weekend with an arsenal of art from antiquity through the 20th century in tow. Within the fair’s innovative hexagonal design—the work of Rafael Viñoly and a nod to the historic 1913 Armory exhibition—is an international lineup of dealers who showcase prime selections of traditional art; among them is New York/Bridgehampton/Palm Beach gallery Mark Borghi Fine Art. Specialists in postwar American and European art, the gallery will focus on icons of the second half of the 20th century, from Warhol to Kusama

A highlight within the booth is Untitled (FLAID) (1984), a crayon drawing by Jean-Michel Basquiat, which evidences the artist’s playful scrawling style and use of elusive text and symbols—most notably, the crown. Known for often portraying his heroes, from jazz musicians to athletes, Basquiat would give them crowns as a mark of nobility and honor; the figure in Untitled (FLAID), resembling a superhero of sorts, is marked by two crowns. This particular work was previously owned by another prominent artist from the East Village scene, Donald Baechler, who received it from the artist in 1985. The work later changed hands and was included in the Basquiat retrospective at Tony Shafrazi Gallery in 1998. Also on view is an early drawing Untitled (Simple Man) (1980), a charming piece that speaks to the virtues of simplicity.

Possessing a similar jovial spirit is Alexander Calder’s Saltimbanques (1974), which features a foursome of circus performers, including flying acrobats, an eccentric leading lady, and a tightrope-walking ringmaster. In art, saltimbanque, the french word for acrobats or performers, is commonly associated with Picasso’s Family of Saltimbanques (1905), which is commonly considered his greatest achievement from the Rose Period, and part of his own two-year obsession with the circus. While working at National Police Gazette as a young man, Calder often illustrated the Barnum & Bailey Circus in New York, and during 1926–30, he explored the circus through wire sculpture. As evidenced through this late work, the circus was a theme that recurred throughout his career.

Mark Borghi Fine Art, Spring Masters, New York, Booth E5, May 1st–4th, 2014.

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