Art Historian's Analysis:
"In the center of the composition stands a skeletal figure with heart and lungs exposed; its arms raised overhead to form a large semi-circle that frames the head encircled by a halo. The face of the figure drawn in vibrant reds, orange, yellow, and blue has a large black horizontal mark covering the eyes —a blindfold of sorts. Around this figure we see characteristic marks of Jean-Michel Basquiat; there is a crown in the upper right and lower right, and we see a copyright symbol as well. In the lower right left, a winged figure appears drawn in white over a black background. This figure shares some features in common with a bird that Basquiat drew onto the surface of his 1981 painting, Bird on Money. In both cases, we see a standing figure with outstretched wings that reach horizontally in opposite directions, and its head turns in profile to show a projecting beak. This is a similar motif to what appears on an Untitled Basquiat painting from 1982 as well, although in both these comparative examples with known works we see that the wings
of the bird are represented via a series of vertical lines that run downward from the top of the wing. In Untitled (LA Painting) from 1983, we see that Basquiat included several drawings of bird-like figures across the composition. Given the artist’s predilection for this particular motif and the fact that it appears in LA Painting —that is, a painting known to be produced during the artist’s time in Los Angeles, it is likely that a similar figure may appear on other works completed in LA during this period. There are, however, some distinct formal differences in the rendering of this figure in Catalogue Number 22, as compared to these known examples.
Basquiat most often represented the wings of these birds with vertical lines that descended from the top of the wing, rather than with a full modeling (e.g., in Untitled 1982 above left). We also notice in these known examples that the beak of the figure is distinctly pointed rather than bluntly rounded as in Catalogue Number 22. More similarities appear, however, when this figure is compared to angels (rather than birds) in the known works of Basquiat. We can see one version of an angel in Untitled (Yellow Tar and Feathers) from 1982, and notice that the wings depicted seem to be a combination of rounded shapes with the addition of vertical lines that descend from the bottom of the wing. Another, more-detailed version of an angel appears in the 1981 painting Untitled (Fallen Angel). Again we see here the fully shaped, rounded wings, this time with various lines radiating outward to represent the lines of individual feathers that comprise the whole. Based on these comparisons I would argue that the figure we see in Catalogue Number 22 shares more features with angels (or winged figures) in the known paintings and drawings of Jean-Michel Basquiat, rather than birds.
The central figure of Catalogue Number 22 shares several features with figures in known paintings and drawings by Basquiat as well. For example, the arms that reach overhead and form a circle above the head of the figure is a device that we see in works like Flexible (1984), which the artist painted in Los Angeles for an exhibition at the Larry Gagosian Gallery. In both works we also see a truncation of the figure below the stomach and particular attention paid to the rendering of internal organs of the chest, specifically the lungs in Flexible that we see drawn in white are present in Catalogue Number 22 as well along with the addition of a beating heart in reddish-pink. Although a portion of the face has been redacted with a black bar that runs from ear to ear, the overall shaping of the head is consistent with other figures in known works by Basquiat.
Conclusion: Given the strength of correspondences in figuration between Catalogue Number 22 and known works by Basquiat, the inclusion of known motifs, and the positive attribution of the included handwriting, icons, and other images by expert Jim Blanco, it is my professional opinion that this work is consistent with the hand of Jean- Michel Basquiat and may be attributed to him." - Dr Jordana Moore Saggese
Basquiat's Colleague's Analysis:
"The above pictured works of art meet many of the criteria associated with the straightforward and simplistic, rapid-fire style employed by JMP when painting on found objects and discarded scraps of corrugated cardboard. This type and style of painting is one that might be easily identified with the artist's early work while still engaged in writing his urban poetic observations on the streets of downtown NYC. Notable [is] the inclusion of the often-used moniker, the crown. This iconography was generally enlisted to inform the viewer of who, in the narrative, is the hero. In this grouping of works, the crown appears to be a spontaneous reflection of the artist's own self.
It is likely that the original intended use of the cardboard was as a surface for the artist to wipe clean his brush while working on another, larger painting. Never one to miss an opportunity to clear his thoughts, these quick, continuous-line artworks were as much an exorcism of ideas as the intended creation of something new. Unsurprisingly, as with the majority of works produced by Basquiat, the omnipresent layering effect is in full force in a stream of consciousness application whoe symbolism and connotation is really only known to the artist himself. The application of the paint on these three works of art is typical and representative of the artist's known approach to the substrate. Basquiat works are known for their often-solid background color upon which the layering begins". - Scott Ferguson
"Similarities to known works by Jean-Michel Basquiat-- "HE DIDN'T", "PLUS", "FULL", "EMBL", spirals/corkscrews in elbows (cr-vol.I 95, 149), the three point crown (cr-vol.I 26, 27, 57, 62, 199, 245, 320), © copyright symbol (cr-vol.I 29, 113, 136, 137, 161, 185, 317, 359), halo with spikes (cr-vol.I 20, 106, 116, 117, 140), random circles (cr-vol.I 27, 67, 84, 140, 141; cr-vol.II 166 frame 7), sketch of bird/bat (lower left of image) looking to left (cr-vol.I 53; cr-vol.II 104 frame 7 and 254 frame 2), submarine (lower left, below bird) (cr-vol.I 167, 186-187), portions of the substrate exposed."
"Numerous distinctive similarities were observed in the hand printings, monograms, symbols, markings, sketches and doodles observed in this Catalogue item #22 painting when compared to the works by Jean-Michel Basquiat as presented in the Catalogue Raisonne and in The Notebooks. Due to these similarities, Jean-Michel Basquiat is identified as the person who created this Catalogue item #22 painting. That is to say, Jean-Michel Basquiat authored the Catalogue item #22 painting."
*An "identification" is a term of art in Forensic Document Examination opinion rendering and represents the highest degree of confidence expressed by document examiners in handwriting comparisons. That is, the examiner has no reservations whatsoever, and the examiner is certain, based on evidence contained in the questioned materials, that the writer of the known material actually wrote the handwritten works in questions (ASTM - American Society of Testing and Materials - designation E 1658-08 Standard Terminology for Expressing Conclusions of Forensic Document Examiners). - James A. Blanco