Undiscovered Genius of the Mississippi Delta is a masterpiece of his new way. The obsessively repeated tags accompany the visual message : Mississippi, Mark Twain, Negroes. A banner locates this disguised form of slavery : The Deep South. This 1983 polyptych was sold for $ 23.7M including premium by Sotheby's on May 14, 2014.
On October 20 in Paris, Christie's sells as lot 14 B an acrylic and pencil on wooden parquet 205 x 244 x 4 cm painted in 1986.
The character is a big black head with empty eyes pinned on a derisory skeleton. The extended arms are terminated by tiny closed fists translating the illusory aspect of the racial combat. This head is traversed throughout by the Mississippi River. The word Mississippi is inscribed in repetition in the lower part of the image. This river manages to match Hudson, Ohio and Thames.
Removing any doubt as to the political reason of this image, a plaque bears a sharp inscription to Jim Crow, symbol for a century and a half of the racial discrimination. This Jim Crow, a fictional character in the minstrel shows, was a rude Negro from the South conceived to argue the civilized black Zip Coon. The message is clear : despite the laws, the living conditions have not changed since Twain's time.
The hopeless attitude of the character is offset by the dynamism of the rhythmic composition around the wooden slats. In 1986 Basquiat appeared increasingly as a jazz enthusiast. A tribute to Lester Young 150 x 100 cm was sold for $ 6M including premium by Sotheby's on May 18, 2017.
SOLD for € 15M including premium