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Jean-Michel Basquiat (American, 1960–1988)
LOT ID: 81351
JFK, Thor, Iron Man & Captain America, 1978

Collage, Oil Pastel, Pencil, and Felt-Tip Pen on Postcard
3.3 х 5.3 in. (8.38 x 13.46 cm.)
Signed, in pencil and pen "JEAN B '78," lower middle right
Edition Unique
Lot description
In this unique work by Jean-Michel Basquiat dating from 1978, a commemorative postcard depicting American president John F. Kennedy becomes a ground for the artist’s vibrant, politically engaged mixed-media technique. “JFK, Thor, Iron Man & Captain America” is an intimate, small-scale collage with hand-drawn additions. Basquiat has adorned the Kennedy postcard with text and imagery from superhero comic books, creating an ironical comparison between the president and other imaginary heroes. Words from Kennedy’s "Ask not..." inaugural speech are displayed upside-down, cutting across the upper part of the composition. The energetic, rebellious touch of the artist is visible throughout the work, from Basquiat’s prominently scribbled signature to the bright hand-applied tinting of the president’s eyes and lips. In a reference to his own birthplace, the artist has pasted a cut-out of the place name “Brooklyn, New York” onto the reverse of the postcard.

Artwork measures 3.3 x 5.3 inches (8.4 x 13.5 cm).

New-York based street artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) gained immense popularity at a young age. While still in his early twenties, Basquiat began his career with political and poetical graffiti that lined the walls of New York City under the satirical signature SAMO (“same old shit”). Basquiat’s works, ranging from his early street and graffiti art to his later Neo-Expressionist pieces, are characterized by intense dichotomies. In his own life, Basquiat struggled with his mixed-race identity, as his mother was Puerto Rican and his father Haitian, and his works extended to include the relationships that exist between wealth and poverty, inner and outer experience, and differing social classes. Basquiat died an untimely death at the age of 28, but his posthumous reputation has continued to grow. His works are exhibited worldwide in major museum collections and notable galleries, including the Gagosian Gallery, London, England (2012); the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (2011); and the Gagosian Gallery, Rome, Italy (2011).

Selected Public Collections:
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
Guggenheim Bilbao, Bilbao, Spain
Fukuoka Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan
Musée d'Art Contemporain, Marseilles, France
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JFK, Thor, Iron Man & Captain America by Jean-Michel Basquiat
  • JFK, Thor, Iron Man & Captain America by Jean-Michel Basquiat
  • JFK, Thor, Iron Man & Captain America by Jean-Michel Basquiat
  • JFK, Thor, Iron Man & Captain America by Jean-Michel Basquiat
  • JFK, Thor, Iron Man & Captain America by Jean-Michel Basquiat
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