Keith Haring - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale Hong Kong Saturday, November 26, 2016 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Provenance

    Galerie Watari, Tokyo
    Private Collection, Tokyo
    Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Tokyo, Galerie Watari, Keith Haring, 8 March - 8 April 1983

  • Catalogue Essay

    A Japanese sumi ink and gouache work on paper, Untitled is an original artwork by the legendary Keith Haring, an artist who notoriously bridged the gap between the art world and the streets having garnered critical attention with a series of drawings in the New York subway in the 1980s. The present lot, signed by the artist while he was in Tokyo, features bold fluorescent green outlines encasing a dense map of neon red forms alluding to a unique syntax of signs. A close examination of the work reveals the individual strokes of ink and paint allowing the viewer to trace Haring’s deliberate, impeccably precise movements across the composition, which is starkly contrasted against the negative white space of the paper. Characterized by a hybrid of imagery and writing akin to the language systems of the ancients, the markings comprising Untitled were inspired by Egyptian hieroglyphics and Japanese, Chinese and Mayan pictograms.

    The present lot demonstrates how the role of drawing in Keith Haring’s oeuvre reverses the traditional critical interest in this media. Throughout art history, works on paper have followed in the footsteps of more 'serious' genres like painting or sculpture. As a more immediate and spontaneous art form, however, drawing has the ability to unmask aspects of the artist’s hand in its purest most unadulterated form. Haring perceived his artistic process as 'an experience that at its best allowed him to transcend reality, to go somewhere else, completely outside his own ego and self. This was a radically different experience from the one that lay behind the culture of the tag, which entailed a monotonous affirmation of the writer’s ego, traced in clearly visible letters in every corner of the metropolis' (Gianni Mercurio, The Keith Haring Show, 2005, p. 19).

    Though he is very often associated with the counter-cultural ideals and lifestyles of the Beat generation graffiti artists who arrived on the New York scene at the beginning of the seventies, Keith Haring firmly believed that 'art always was and always will be the product of the individual […] No artists are part of a movement, unless they are followers […] As soon as they declare themselves followers or accept the truths they have not explored as truths, they are defeating the purpose of art as an individual expression—Art as Art' (Haring, Journals, October 1978, p. 11). Alongside Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kenny Scharf and Jenny Holzer, Haring is regarded as a leading figure from the New York East Village Art scene in the 1970s and ‘80s—Untitled being an exemplary original work from which subsequent editions were created.

  • Artist Biography

    Keith Haring

    American • 1958 - 1990

    Haring's art and life typified youthful exuberance and fearlessness. While seemingly playful and transparent, Haring dealt with weighty subjects such as death, sex and war, enabling subtle and multiple interpretations. 

    Throughout his tragically brief career, Haring refined a visual language of symbols, which he called icons, the origins of which began with his trademark linear style scrawled in white chalk on the black unused advertising spaces in subway stations. Haring developed and disseminated these icons far and wide, in his vibrant and dynamic style, from public murals and paintings to t-shirts and Swatch watches. His art bridged high and low, erasing the distinctions between rarefied art, political activism and popular culture. 

    View More Works

Property of an Important Asian Collector



signed, inscribed and dated 'K. Haring FEB.25-83 TOKYO' on the reverse
Japanese Sumi ink and gouache on paper
60 x 74.5 cm. (23 5/8 x 29 3/8 in.)
Executed on 25 February 1983.

HK$1,400,000 - 1,700,000 

Sold for HK$2,120,000

Contact Specialist
Jonathan Crockett
Deputy Chairman, Asia and Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Asia
+852 2318 2023

Sandy Ma
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+852 2318 2025

General Enquiries
+852 2318 2000

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 27 November 2016