Category Archives: 20th Century Paintings

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Basquiat was born in Brooklyn, New York.He attended high school in New York at “City As School”, but dropped out a year before graduating. By 1979, Basquiat had gained a certain celebrity status amidst the thriving art scene of Manhattan’s East Village through his regular appearances on Glenn O’Brien’s live public-access cable show, TV Party. He later formed a band called Gray, with Shannon Dawson, Michael Holman, Nick Taylor & Wayne Clifford. Basquiat first started to gain recognition as an artist in June 1980, when he participated in The Times Square Show, a multi-artist exhibition, sponsored by Collaborative Projects Incorporated (Colab).By 1982, Basquiat was showing regularly, and alongside Julian Schnabel, David Salle, Francesco Clemente and Enzo Cucchi, became part of what was called the Neo-expressionist movement. [wikipedia]

Fallen Angel, 1981

Untitled (Boxer), 1982

Far from grafitti, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s works were considered paintings and were associated with those of the Italian transavantgarde (he would go on to collaborate with painters Francesco Clemente and Andy Warhol). Photocopied colours were applied on the canvas in some places, while in others dark and grotesque figures were drawn, along with words or formulas, more or less decipherable signs intersecting with harsh colours. Quotations extracted from the media were written, autobiographical fragments also appeared (the crown of SAMO), and elements were borrowed from voodoo cult (assertion of “negritude”).


Alice Neel – Max White

Alice Neel (January 28, 1900 – October 13, 1984) was an American artist known for her oil on canvas portraits of friends, family, lovers, poets, artists and strangers. Her paintings are notable for their expressionistic use of line and color, psychological acumen, and emotional intensity. [wikipedia]

Max White, 1961, Oil on canvas, Estate of Alice Neel. [official site]

Fernand Léger – Les Trois Musiciens

Fernand Léger – Les Trois Musiciens
Year: 1932
Estimated value: $ 2.000.000 to $ 3.000.000

The feat of superbly imitating a muscle, as Michelangelo did, or a face, as Raphael did, created neither progress nor a hierarchy in art. Because these artists of the sixteenth century imitated human forms, they were not superior to the artists of the high periods of the Egyptian, Chaldean, Indochinese, Roman, and Gothic art who interpreted and stylized form but did not imitate it.

George Grosz – Widmung an Oskar Panizza

George Grosz. To Oskar Panizza. 1917

Oil on canvas. 140 x 110 cm.

Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany.

In 1917, Grosz joined with John Heartfield in protesting about the German wartime propaganda campaign against the allies. This included anti-war drawings such as Fit for Active Service (1918), in which a well-fed doctor pronounces a skeleton fit for duty.

After the Armistice Grosz was active in left-wing politics and contributed to communist journals published by Malik-Verlag. He also joined with artists such as John Heartfield, Otto Dix, Max Ernst, Kurt Schwitters to form the German Dada group. Grosz’s drawings often attacked members of the government and important business leaders. Grosz was taken to court several times but although heavily fined, managed to escape imprisonment. Grosz’s collected drawings, The Face of the Ruling Class (1921) and Ecce Homo (1927), earned him an international reputation as a politically committed artist.

Joan Mitchell – Champs

Joan Mitchell (1925–1992)

CHAMPS, year 1990

Oil on canvas (240×200 centimeters)

Joan Mitchell is perhaps best known as a second-generation member of the New York School. Yet although she was included in the celebrated 1957 exhibition Artists of the New York School: Second Generation at the Jewish Museum in New York, Mitchell lived and worked primarily in France.  While her dramatic, lushly painted works possess an active, gestural quality that connects her work to New York School artists such as Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, and Philip Guston, her work also evokes the paintings and pastels of French Impressionists through their vivid palette and frequent references to nature. As her work incorporated both of these influences, Mitchell is frequently termed an Abstract Impressionist. Such an association is reinforced by the fact that Mitchell work primarily out of Vétheuil, a town outside of Paris where Claude Monet lived and worked, and in a strange twist of fate, that she also lived on Avenue Claude Monet.

Graham Sutherland – Bamboo Forest

Graham Sutherland – Bamboo Forest

Oil on canvas  (55.2 x 46.4 cm.) Year: 1962

Estimated value $ 50,000 – $ 80,000

Graham Sutherland (1903-1980), the leading painter of the English neoromantic movement, was noted for his imaginative pictures based on landscape and plant forms and for his portraits.

Graham Sutherland was born in London on Aug. 24, 1903. He studied at Goldsmiths’ College of Art, London, specializing in engraving, and worked until 1930 as an engraver of landscape subjects in the tradition of Samuel Palmer. In 1935-1936 Sutherland found himself as a painter, partly under the influence of the landscape of Pembrokeshire. This was also the period when surrealism made a big impact in England, and he combined surrealist elements with the romantic landscape tradition. Objects such as the roots of an uprooted tree seen in violent foreshortening were given a mysterious, ominous, monster-like character, the impact being enhanced by strong, unrealistic colors.

Colin McCahon – Buttercup Fields Forever IV

Colin John McCahon (1 August 1919, Timaru, New Zealand – 27 May 1987)

Buttercup Fields Forever IV, 1967

Polyvinyl Acetate on paper

Estimated worth: $190,000-$250,000

McCahon shows religious undertones to his work by giving the landscape an essentially spiritual element. One method by which he does this is by stripping the landscape bare, showing influence of Cotton’s book Geomorphology of New Zealand.