The 1981 Untitled (Black King Catch Scorpio) painting by Jean Michel Basquiat sees the figure of a fisherman proudly presenting his catch, a fish hanging at the end of his fishing stick. Filled with symbolism from his Haitian and Puerto Rican heritage, the work once again puts on display Basquiat’s vivid imagination, through the black and white skeleton of his “black king” and the colourful background which puts it in focus. The painting achieved $23,5 million at Christie’s New York in 2012.
One of the most original and influential artists of his generation, Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960 – 1988) produced deceptively unsophisticated-looking works that belied a complex and unique talent. Born in Brooklyn of Haitian and Puerto Rican descent, Basquiat first gained notoriety with graffiti artwork. He catapulted to fame with paintings that incorporated a fusion of words, symbols, stick figures, animals, and historical and cultural references. Befriended by Andy Warhol, Basquiat collaborated with the renowned Pop Artist on 100 artworks. Despite a career tragically cut short by a heroin overdose, Basquiat introduced the unique African-American and Latino experience to the elite art world.