Visitors to his exhibitions might believe that he is a visual artist rather than a thinker. He begins a monumental composition related to the prophetic meaning of life. Identified under the title Flesh and Spirit, it is divided into two 184 x 368 cm canvases adjacent one above the other. The whole surface 368 x 368 cm is broken down into four quadrants to be read from left to right and from top to bottom like a page of comic strips.
The first three images show an alchemy interweaving the skull and the bones, the brain and the fleshy limbs, with repetitions of words that guide the path of thought and are sometimes crossed out for avoiding the errors. For the first time in the art of Jean-Michel the word is everywhere and the color is rare.
The last quadrant is completed with a black rectangle in which the interaction between Flesh and Spirit is expressed in a diagram of the greatest simplicity and clarity. Just below it the artist figured a derrick with the word Petrol to announce that the control of the anatomical mystery opens the next phase which is the fight against the consumer society.
Flesh and Spirit is finished just in time for an exhibition in New York in January 1983. It is immediately bought by Dolores Ormandy Neumann who finds in this artwork an achievement of the street art and states with sagacity that she may consider it as Basquiat's Rosetta stone.
Flesh and Spirit will be sold by Sotheby's in New York on May 16 as lot 24. The press release of March 28 announces an estimate in the region of $ 30M.
Basquiat continues in 1983 with this new style of narrative figuration. Undiscovered Genius of the Mississippi Delta was sold for $ 23.7M including premium by Sotheby's on May 14, 2014. Brother's Sausage was sold for $ 18.6M including premium on November 17, 2016, also by Sotheby's.
Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
SOLD for $ 31M including premium