Art Historian's Analysis:
Catalogue Number 26 consists of a cartoonish reptile figure. Wearing a crown and with clawed hands raised above its head, the words “FEED ME” seem to pour from its open mouth. Shown in profile, we can see only one eye of the figure which has been encircled several times over in multiple colors. Its jaw hinges open in an impossible wide angle to allow a full view of an open mouth, with two rows of sharpened teeth. While there are examples of animals present in the artist’s paintings and drawings these are largely wolves, dogs, bulls, and birds, the reptile image is not a common motif in Basquiat’s known works. Reptiles do appear in works such as Crocodile —a 1984 collaboration between Basquiat and Andy Warhol —and works on paper Untitled (Dinosaur) and Snake Man (see below). In all three examples we also see a radically elongated jaw, shown in profile so that we have the best view of the rows of sharp teeth inside the mouth. Pez Dispenser of 1984 shows a reptilian figure as well. In the latter example we also see that Basquiat has added a gold crown, outlined in a contrasting color, above the animal’s head. This arrangement is similar to Catalogue Number 26.
Below the reptile’s head in Catalogue Number 26 we see the inclusion of an outline of two arms that come outward from the suggested torso of the figure. The elbow and wrist joints are emphasized with large circles, and as the arms bend at ninety degrees to point upward we notice that there are sharp, red claws point awkwardly toward the figure. The simplification of arms to the bones, joints, and musculature is strongly characteristic of Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose obsession with anatomy, a result of his hospitalization as a child, has been well documented. Known works where we see similar representations of arms and/or claws instead of hands include: Icon 6, Self Portrait and Untitled —all from 1982.
Just to the right of the figure we see the phrase “FEED ME” repeated twice, as well as the word “BAT” written several times alongside a drawing of a bat in blue outline. The bat symbol is one that appears in several known paintings of Jean-Michel Basquiat, including Item (1987) and another Untitled work from the same year. In the latter example we see a very similar construction to Catalogue Number 26 —that is, the same number of descending peaks in the wing, as well as the shaping of the outermost section of the wing as a crescent. Looking at a detail from the lower right corner of Basquiat’s Pilgrimage we see several other renderings of bats, no two of which are identical. The variation between drawings of bats in Basquiat’s known paintings and drawings leads me to conclude that the bat in Catalogue Number 26 could have in fact been drawn by the artist.
Conclusion: Based on the positive identification of handwriting on Catalogue Number 26 (e.g., “FEED” and “BAT”) by handwriting expert Jim Blanco in conjunction with the features common to known paintings and drawings (e.g., emphasis on the teeth, crown, outlining of the eyes in concentric circles in varying colors, and simplification of the arm anatomy), 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:
"This explosive work of art exhibits all the elements one could wish for in a work by JM Basquiat. From the child-like approach to the monster's claws, reworked from the original triangle traffic-cone style fingers to the scrawled words, this expressive, colorful, angry multi layered mixed media drawing incorporates some of the finest classic iconography known to have been employed by the artist. From the three-pointed crown to the 'Cy Twombly' circles, this work embodies the artist's free-form approach to stream of consciousness drawing. The lettering in this drawing appears to significantly match the style and energy of lettering in known works of art. Again, this style of drawing and inspiration of outside influences would not have been known to copiers or forgers of Basquiat on the West Coast in the year 1982." - Scott Ferguson
"Similarities to known works by Jean-Michel Basquiat-- "FEED", "BAT", repetitive use of words ("BAT" in this case) (cr-vol.I 180, 181, 186, 189, 200, 239, 319; comp 296), the three point crown (cr-vol.I 26, 27, 57, 62, 199, 245, 320), tic-tac-toe style of grid (cr-vol.I 78-79, 80; cr-vol.II 106 frames 4 and 5, 102 frames 4 and 5), red claws pointing toward figure (cr-vol.I 123), reptile appearance head (cr-vol.I 129, 315), concentric circles for eyes (cr-vol.I 69, 84, 88, 89, 146-147; cr-vol.II page 88 frames 4 and 6, page 108 frames 1, 2, and 8, page 138 frame 2, page 144 frame 5, page 176 frame 1 and 4), sketch of winged bat (cr-vol.I 291; cr-vol.II 104 frame 7, 258 frame 5)."
"Numerous distinctive similarities were observed in the hand printings, monograms, symbols, markings, sketches and doodles observed in this Catalogue item #26 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 #26 painting. That is to say, Jean-Michel Basquiat authored the Catalogue item #26 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