Secret drawing unearthed in Basquiat painting

by Charlotte Smith

Secret drawings made in invisible UV ink have been discovered in Jean Michel Basquiat’s painting. New York-based conservator Emily Macdonald-Korth, who was responsible for authenticating and examining the piece, Untitled 1981, by the late artist, uncovered two arrows done with black light crayon. This is not the first time either that secret drawings have been unearthed in a Basquiat painting. In 2012, Sotheby’s discovered the artist had secretly signed on his 1982 painting ‘Orange Sports Figure’.

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled (1981), showing the hidden UV ink arrowsvia Artnet News, courtesy of Longevity Art Preservation

“I start looking at this thing and I see these arrows,” Macdonald-Korth told Artnet News. She flipped the lights back on to make sure she wasn’t imagining things and the arrows disappeared. She flipped the lights off again and there they were: two arrows drawn in what looked like a black-light crayon, virtually identical to other arrows drawn visibly on the canvas with red and black oil sticks. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said. “He basically did a totally secret part of this painting.”

Macdonald-Korth has also suggested anyone who owns a Basquiat painting should invest in a UV flashlight and examine the painting. “It’s so exciting to see something that’s literally invisible that the artist put there on purpose, completely intentionally.”

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