The Dallas Museum of Art received their first work from one of the most popular artists of the ‘80s in what the museum calls a “landmark gift.”
The painting “Sam F,” by the iconic American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, was donated by the late Samuel and Helga Feldman to the Museum. Basquiat painted the portrait of Samuel Feldman while visiting Dallas in 1985. The work incorporates Basquiat’s characteristic dense, meaning-laden imagery and references to pop culture and the artistic, musical and literary canon.
“The first work of art to enter the collection by the world-renowned artist, it embodies Basquiat’s uncanny ability to meld art history, pop culture, and empathy for the human subject,” said Anna Katherine Brodbeck, Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, in a statement. “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.”
Basquiat was born in 1960 in Brooklyn to Haitian and Puerto Rican parents. His work often incorporated references to Black culture, sociocultural critique and art history. In the late 1970s, he garnered attention for the cryptic phrases he graffitied around Manhattan with his collaborator Al Diaz under the pseudonym SAMO. By 1981, Basquiat was producing work in more traditional modes of painting using salvaged materials, canvas and paper.
When Basquiat visited Dallas in 1985 for the DMA’s opening reception of the exhibition “Primitivism in 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern,” he stayed at the Feldman home for several weeks. During this period, he painted “Sam F” on one of the doors of the apartment he stayed in.
“We are honored to have this supremely important artist represented in our collection by a work that has such a special connection to our city and our museum,” said Agustín Arteaga, the DMA’s Eugene McDermott Director, in a statement. “As a work of art, the painting is an excellent example of Basquiat’s iconic style. As a treasured object, its history is a testament to the deep generosity and support of Dallas patrons for contemporary artists and the city’s arts institutions.”
“Sam F” was first displayed by the DMA five years after Basquiat’s death, when the museum highlighted the support Dallas patrons gave the artist in an exhibition “Dallas Collects Jean-Michel Basquiat.” The DMA is eager to put “Sam F” back on display and will exhibit the piece on the main concourse beginning July 4, 2021, until February 2022.