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Artist Basquiat's early works to be on exhibit, auction in New York

(Reuters) - Early works by artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, known for his provocative, powerful and sometimes controversial paintings, will be exhibited and sold in online and in-house auctions in March, Christie's said on Friday.

Approximately 50 works that the Brooklyn-born artist, who burst onto the New York art scene more than 30 years ago, left to his former lover, Alexis Adler, will be included in the exhibit that opens on March 1 in New York.

Adler, an embryologist at New York University's School of Medicine, shared an apartment with Basquiat on New York's Lower East Side from 1979 to 1980, when he was a struggling artist.

"I loved Jean and Jean loved me. We had our moment together here on 12th Street and I'll always have that, but it's time to share," said Adler, 57, who still lives in the apartment.

He could not afford supplies and painted on the walls, doors, refrigerator and even on Adler's coat - a gold garment she plans to wear to the exhibit opening, she said in an interview.

Three of Basquiat's most sought-after works will be on auction at Christie's on March 6. An untitled mural painted on a door with the words "Famous Negro Athletes" is expected to be the top seller with a pre-sale estimate of up to $1.2 million.

Other highlights are "Olive Oyl," a work on plaster which could fetch as much as $600,000, and "Milk," a painted radiator, expected to sell for up to $500,000.

Among 41 other works to be sold online March 2-17, are graffiti sketches priced as low as $2,000.

The exhibit and auctions come on the heels of record sales for post-war paintings. In November, Francis Bacon's "Three Studies of Lucian Freud," at $142.4 million, became the most expensive work of art ever sold at Christie's in New York.

Basquiat, a friend of pop artist Andy Warhol, drew heavily on his Haitian and Puerto Rican roots. His career was the subject of a feature film and a documentary. He died in 1988 at the age of 27 of a heroin overdose.

"The sum total of these works provide an intimate view of Basquiat before his fame and while he was practicing graffiti in the streets and getting by on his own wits and the good will of others, who recognized his tremendous creative spark," said Jonathan Laib, Christie's senior specialist for post-war and contemporary art.

"They really describes this very particular period for the artist and for the Lower East Side art scene in New York City, which was so vibrant," he said.

Adler said she has always wanted to show and share Basquiat's artwork.

"I have so much, and it is just time for it to be released in the world," she said.

(Reporting By Marina Lopes; editing by Patricia Reaney and Gunna Dickson)

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bmcdesoc February 02 2014 at 12:22 PM

Someone much sharper than me said it best, "Art is anything you can get away with."

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Today's antr day February 02 2014 at 12:11 PM

J.G.Herder (1744-1803) said (paraphrased) that art should be judged on its legitimate contextual ground of validity, which is for its capacity to form a moral character.
Are we listening to the great minds of Western Thought or to the stupidity of our contemporary culture, or perhaps to Christie'sauctioneers?
Ask yourself: How does contemporary art conetribute to a better world?
The impoverished mind of these kind of artists can only tell us in what world they belong. Sad, very sad. Keep supporting this kind ofcraziness but do not complain about the world we live in.
If you want to learn about the making of a great artist, read the introduction of the book "Of Arteology" By Raffaele Martini Pandozy -- Sculptor and Ph.D. in art education. You can download it for free in his website martinipandozy-artaboutart.com

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1 reply
homeskig Today's antr day February 02 2014 at 12:29 PM

I don't need to know great art or artists by reading a book. You miss the point.

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jbroskoski3 February 02 2014 at 2:00 PM

looks like something a kid would draw in nursery school...that crap is honestly some of the worst "art" that I've ever seen....

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Tony and Laurel February 02 2014 at 10:41 AM

In deference to W. C. Fields: One is born every minute. Talk about media hype for garbage!

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Is that hands? February 02 2014 at 10:01 AM

We take for granted the art in everyday life. Objects we use every day are mindless and pointless to those that live from the fork of the elitist society mentality. When objects that we expect not to hurt us become weapons of mass destruction we are quick to overlook the art. When "second graders" communicate the emotions of the world with rude applications..we are quick to think less of the art because we think less of the child to actually be intelligent. A lot of the comments show a twisted mirror about how we value people and there expressions to be more than just on the surface. You smell those Mc donald french fries and think there is no art. You vote in a box and think there is no art. Drive or are inspired to buy big fancy cars that do amazing things at a touch of the button and there is no art. A perfect picture is Art? Who is perfect? To strive for perfection is Art. To put together a system of organs, vessels to carry blood, bones to erect for movement, senses to gain an intellect, and all the while as art you are, from behind those pearly whites you mindlessly wash everyday with new art applications of cleanliness is the stench of your art.

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1 reply
Earl Fromley Is that hands? February 02 2014 at 11:05 AM

he did die from heroin overdose and most of the time was high as a kite, not very smart and should devalue his artistic talent. after all it was not him painting but joe the crackhead.

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Richard February 02 2014 at 1:32 AM

Hello.... For selling 3 pictures and getting around 2.3 million dollars you bet I would share (sell) some paintings.

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joedamailman February 02 2014 at 11:03 AM

Sorry can't that art But I will call it trash, I've seen better in any nursery school !!

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PATRICK February 02 2014 at 2:41 AM

I think he, and many modern artisits, are entirely overrated. People are more taken in by his life style and untimely death. Glorifying drug addicts who paint under the influence is not my idea of intellectually inspired art. Is this the only way really important modern day art can be created? Drug induced? If so, then we are truly in a cultural desert, devoid of real artisitc talent. It is time for a reality check in the art world and the investment money associated with it. Ms. Adler can retire in comfort for sure at these absurd prices for work that reflects only the insidious abstractions of a sick man. He is no Van Gogh.

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1 reply
lgwynn7213 PATRICK February 02 2014 at 7:31 AM

Van Gogh is no Basquait.

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mikey44go February 02 2014 at 2:23 AM

my 6 year old paints better than that---oohh & a campbells soup can??? how original

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nicfon February 02 2014 at 9:08 AM

I first read many naive comments ... then I saw the images ... I have to be gratefull to be able to appreciate and being moved by such a magnificent art, it is not for everyone. On the other hand, there is no need to be frustrated for not feeling the art, many people do not care for beautiful cars, or clothing, or shoes, or even music. We are just different, thanks God.

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