A Jean-Michel Basquiat masterpiece of enigmatic words, signs, and cyphers. A dynamic and imposing Baron Samedi (intermediary between life and death in the Haitian voodoo practice) wears an ominous smile — a powerful reminder of the fragility of life.
Nearly 14' x 8', the present work represents the artist at the peak of his power, fully accomplished in his practice and executing works that have come to define a generation.
The present work is one of the largest in a series of paintings which Basquiat undertook during two periods he spent in Modena, Italy, in the spring of 1981 and 1982. Common themes from this group of work include religion and the fragile link between heaven and hell.
'Guilt' or 'Gilt'? The title, 'The Guilt of Gold Teeth', is an exemplar of Basquiat's devilish sense of humour, and may pay homage to the 1980s trend of Black sports and music stars wearing gold dental fillings and gold grills.
Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988), 'The Guilt of Gold Teeth'. Executed in 1982. Estimate: $40,000,000-80,000,000.
21st Century Art Evening Sale — 9 November 2021, New York