A portrait by Jean-Michel Basquiat, painted on the door of the apartment where he was staying during a sojourn in Dallas in 1985, was recently acquired by the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA). Donated by the late Texan art collectors Samuel and Helga Feldman, “Sam F” (1985) is the first work by Basquiat to enter the museum’s collection. However, it won’t be the first time that this particular painting has appeared at the DMA; “Sam F” was one of 17 works in the museum’s exhibition of work by Basquiat in private local collections, Dallas Collects Jean-Michel Basquiat, which was held in 1993, just five years after the artist’s untimely death.
In 1985, Dallas-based art advisor Marcia May and her husband Alan invited Basquiat to attend the June opening of the DMA’s exhibition Primitivism in 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern, which had traveled from the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The 24-year-old New York-based painter and graffiti artist’s star was already on the rise; Basquiat had famously appeared on the February 10 cover of the New York Times Magazine that year and had his second solo show at Mary Boone Gallery in March. Basquiat accepted the invitation and stayed at the Mays’ residence for several weeks that summer. During his time there, he frequently visited with the Feldmans, an art collector couple who lived in the same apartment complex.
A characteristically bold, layered oil painting by Basquiat, “Sam F” depicts a suit-wearing Samuel Feldman against an aqua backdrop. Feldman, whose face is abstractly rendered with swathes of orange and gray, is depicted sitting in his wheelchair, the wheels rimmed with lime green and brick red swoops of paint. Floating around the collector are a black bird’s head, several prose-poems or lists, and the name “SAM” scrawled multiple times, once accompanied by a copyright sign — a play on Basquiat’s iconic graffiti tag, SAMO©. Basquiat painted the portrait directly onto the Mays’ door. It was neither the first nor the last time that the artist, who had a penchant for salvaged materials, would elect to use a door as a canvas.
In a statement, Dr. Anna Katherine Brodbeck, the museum’s senior curator of contemporary art, called the work a “landmark gift.” “This painting fills a significant gap in our collection and allows us the opportunity to share with audiences the groundbreaking contributions of Black and Latinx artists to the art world in the 1980s,” Dr. Brodbeck continued.
Agustín Arteaga, the DMA’s director, added that the work has a special connection with the city and the museum. “[We] are thrilled to share it with our community almost as quickly as we received it,” Arteaga added.
“Sam F” will be on view on the DMA’s main concourse on July 4 until February 2022.
Correction 7/1/21 11:18am: This article has been updated to note that the bird seen in “Sam F” (1985) is not a duck, but a black bird.
Your list of must-see, fun, insightful, and very New York art events this month, including art made during the first stock market crash, a homage to feline friends, and the 10-year anniversary of a crucial public art initiative.
Astrid Dick was told that she could not paint stripes because Sean Scully and Frank Stella have done so before her, a patently foolish statement.
Hrag Vartanian, Hyperallergic’s editor-in-chief, is one of the guest jurors reviewing applications for the two-month residency in Utica, New York.
Paddy Johnson answers your questions about art fairs, visibility, and frustrating studio visits.
The 26th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival’s Philippines retrospective highlights early documentation of the country, local responses to the Marcos dictatorship, and contemporary work.
Hear a band of improvisers led by Rajna Swaminathan and a performance of Morton Feldman’s “For John Cage” in programs inspired by the exhibition, “New York: 1962-1964.”
The country music legend says the museum will be part of a “Dolly Center.”
Herzog and de Meuron’s design for the Museum of the 20th Century in Berlin has been accused of poor energy efficiency and called a “structural nightmare.”
From residencies, fellowships, and workshops to grants, open calls, and commissions, our monthly list of opportunities for artists, writers, and art workers.
Looking for some holiday gift inspiration? We’ve got you covered with this roundup of accessories, games, and more that have been flying off the shelf this season.
SCAD’s booth at Design Miami/ features glazed tiles by alumni artists Nicolas Barrera, Lauren Clay, Gonzalo Hernandez, Cory Imig, Abel Macias, and Nikita Nagpal.
Plaintiff Cheri Pierson accuses the disgraced financier of a “brutal” sexual attack at the Manhattan mansion of Jeffrey Epstein.
At the heart of What if the Matriarchy Was Here All Along? is the idea that matriarchy never really died but rather has transformed.