Olympics (1984 painting)

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ArtistJean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol
MediumAcrylic on canvas
MovementNeo-expressionism and pop art
Dimensions192.72 cm × 310 cm (75.875 in × 122 in)

Olympics is a painting created by American artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol in 1984. The artwork was a commemoration of the 1984 Summer Olympics. It sold for $10.5 million at Phillips's Contemporary Art Evening Sale in June 2012, which at the time was a record high for a Warhol-Basquiat collaboration.[1][2] It is the second most expensive Warhol-Basquiat collaboration sold at auction after Zenith (1985).[3]


Andy Warhol rose to prominence as the leading artist of the 1960s Pop art movement. He ventured into a variety of art forms, including filmmaking, photography, and writing. Controversially blurring the lines between fine art and mainstream aesthetics made him the most famous artist America had ever produced, but by the late 1970s his popularity had waned.[4][5] He had a resurgence of success in the 1980s, partially due to his affiliation with a number of prolific younger artists, who were dominating the 1980s New York art scene.

Jean-Michel Basquiat started out as a street artist under the moniker SAMO. He also ventured into music, forming the experimental band Gray. In 1979, he began creating sculptures, mixed media works, and selling clothes that he painted on. Basquiat idolized Warhol and was ecstatic when he sold him a postcard at a restaurant in 1979.[6] They were later formally introduced by Swiss art dealer Bruno Bischofberger in October 1982. By that time, Basquiat had become a sensation in the art world for his neo-expressionist paintings.[7] Upon meeting, Warhol took polaroid photos of Basquiat, and Basquiat made Warhol a portrait titled Dos Cabezas (1982). They soon became close friends and began collaborating on paintings together.[8] The collaborations began in 1983 when Bischofberger decided to commission work from three of his artists: Warhol, Basquiat and Italian artist Francesco Clemente. Eventually it became a two-way collaboration between Warhol and Basquiat in 1984.[9]

After many years of silkscreen and oxidation, Warhol returned to painting with a brush in hand in a series of large collaborative works with Basquiat over a span of two years.[5] Their relationship became increasingly strained, culminating in September 1985, when their joint exhibit Warhol and Basquiat: Paintings opened at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery in SoHo to mostly negative reviews.[10][5] Basquiat was upset when he was called Warhol's accessory.[5] When Warhol died following gallbladder surgery in 1987, Basquiat was swamped by grief and guilt. He died the following year from a heroin overdose.[5]


When they collaborated, Warhol usually started the process by providing the basis and then Basquiat would add his input. Basquiat recalled in his interview with Davis and Johnston: "[Warhol] would put something very concrete or recognizable, like a newspaper headline or a product logo, and then I would sort of deface it."[11] Warhol made the five-ring Olympic symbol rendered in the original primary colors and Basquiat painted heads over it in his animated style.


Olympics has been exhibited at major art institutions worldwide, which include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "AO Auction Results — London: Phillips de Pury Contemporary Art Evening Auction, June 28, 2012". Art Observed. June 28, 2012. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
  2. ^ Elliott, Hannah (June 28, 2012). "Warhol, Basquiat Set World Record At Phillips". Forbes. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
  3. ^ Kinsella, Eileen (May 16, 2014). "Rothko and Koons Shine At Phillips Sale". artnet News. Retrieved 2021-01-14.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ "10 Reasons Why Andy Warhol Matters". Artsy. June 25, 2013. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
  5. ^ a b c d e Scott, Chadd (June 26, 2019). "Judge Jean-Michel Basquiat-Andy Warhol Collaborations For Yourself At Jack Shainman Gallery's The School". Forbes. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
  6. ^ Brumfitt, Stuart (September 19, 2017). "New York Inspiration | Tales from Teen Basquiat's Best Friend". Amuse. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
  7. ^ Gotthardt, Alexxa (April 1, 2018). "What Makes 1982 Basquiat's Most Valuable Year". Artsy. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
  8. ^ Vanderhoof, Erin (July 31, 2019). "Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and the Friendship That Defined the Art World in 1980s New York City". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol". LotSearch. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
  10. ^ Faughnan, Ally (May 28, 2019). "The best, worst, and weirdest parts of Warhol and Basquiat's friendship". Dazed. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
  11. ^ Gotthardt, Alexxa (June 6, 2019). "Jean-Michel Basquiat on How to Be an Artist". Artsy. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
  12. ^ "Aesthetica Magazine - Ménage à trois: Warhol, Basquiat, Clemente, Art & Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bonn". Aesthetica Magazine. February 17, 2012. Retrieved 2020-10-03.