The Untitled skull is floating in front of an uncertain surrounding that can be a break through a palisade. Large and black and occupying two thirds in both height and width of the image, it is breathing an extreme power. With several holes opening to the blue sky and a red tongue, it is a crazy mask as well as a mere human skull.
The Red Skull features a scarlet red skull with hollow cheeks, smaller in its proportion within the image. Less obsessive than the other skull, it therefore leaves a better place to its surrounding which is a masterpiece of synthesis of modern art to which the artist adds his innovative mastery of pure colors by the technique of the oilstick .
A great jazz lover, Basquiat admired the art of Franz Kline. King Oliver, an abstract painting 250 x 197 cm painted by Kline in 1958 and sold for $ 26.5M including premium by Christie's on November 12, 2014, was already a balance of pure colors brought onto the canvas by a musicalist gesture.
Red Skull is a very good example of the expressionist balance brought by Basquiat with no less than seven colors, red, blue, lilac, pink, green, yellow and gold, covering the entire canvas unlike the explosions by Kline or by Joan Mitchell. The work is also embellished with urban structures tending to abstraction that would have enchanted Kandinsky or de Kooning.
SOLD for £ 16.5M including premium