Allah Zeus Buddah

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Basquiat started working with xeroxed copies of his drawings in the early 1980s when a commercial colour copier was installed in a printing shop on Broadway, close to the artist's studio. For the cost of only a few cents per copy, he quickly realised the value to his creative process that re-using his drawings would have. His studio assistant would make regular trips to the machine, carrying a pile of drawings and returning with armfuls of xeroxes. With the arrival of xerox, Basquiat altered the course of his practice.

“The seemingly throw-away sheets that carpeted his studio might appear little more than warm-ups for painting, except that the artist, a shrewd connoisseur of his own off-hand and under foot inventions did not in fact throw them away, but instead kept the best for constant reference and re-use. Or, kept them because they were, quite simply, indestructibly vivid.” (Robert Storr, “Two Hundred Beats Per Min,” in Exh. Cat., New York, The Robert Miller Gallery, Basquiat Drawings, 1990, n.p.)

The present work "Allah Zeus Buddah" is a xerox detail of the drawing "Replicas", one of 32 drawings in the Daros Collection in Switzerland. Another "Allah Zeus Buddah" xerox is collaged onto the painting "Brothers Sausage", formerly in the Brant Foundation collection. How this fragment came to be presented alone on canvas is recalled by Stephen Torton, Basquiat's former studio assistant, and the original owner of the work:

"In August of 1982, while I was employed as the assistant of Jean-Michel Basquiat. He sent me to make many Xerox copies of a selection of drawings. At his instruction, I also purchased a variety of different sized, small student stretchers. These Xeroxed drawings were also incorporated in several paintings. Others were attached to the stretchers using matt medium. Jean Michel gave a bunch of these to me and suggested I could give them as Christmas gifts which I did."

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988)
Allah Zeus Buddah
Xerox copy laid down on canvas
12 x 9 in : 30.5 x 22.9 cm
Stephen Torton, New York
Stephen Torton was Jean-Michel Basquiat's studio assistant
Another xerox of this image is collaged within the painting Brothers Sausage, 1983, formerly in the Brant Foundation, Greenwich: see Jean-Michel Basquiat, Robert Farris Thompson and Rene Ricard, Gagosian Gallery, New York, 2014, pp 110-112 (illus.)
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