|Hand-signed "Jean Basquiat" in pencil verso and
Inscribed "From A Friend of Tony's"
Basquiat produced annotated and collaged postcards at an early stage in his career, selling them on the streets of lower New York. Although early in date, these postcards already attest to the artist's hybrid language of African-American culture, pop culture, and fine art.
In the present works, Basquiat associates textual elements and photocopied images in a manner that is uniquely his own, described by the critic John Russell in 1984 as proceeding "by disjunction - that is, by making marks that seem quite unrelated but turn out to get on very well together".
Although Basquiat's work is often described as Primitivist, these postcards demonstrate the artist's refusal to identify with this view. Expressions such as "stupid games" and "bad ideas" are combined with allusions to authenticity tropes-a personal identification card, a barcode, and playful photographs-and to money and value-"only $1," and "negative surplus data"-as if to suggest their instability.