The champion has become shabby. His arms with disjointed elbows are branches of a dead tree and his crown of thorns is soft like a Dali watch. The big crown rewarding the winner is intact in the bottom right but we cannot know who will catch it.
The young artist mastered the mix of techniques : acrylic, spray and oilstick. However he takes care to execute the focusing point of the picture, the face of the character, by an ersatz of art : a simple xerox on which only one eye is left as another obvious sign of the degeneration of his hero.
Basquiat is a keen activist about the superiority of the black race but this nightmare is not a depressive accident in his work, otherwise he would have modified or destroyed it. It seems that the artist has always understood that his fight has no chance of success. This painting is a self-mocking masterpiece far more expressive than his drift in the following years toward the howling of a desperate political message.
SOLD for £ 12M including premium