Keith Haring - Contemporary Art Part I New York Wednesday, May 11, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Hans Mayer, Germany; Private collection, Dusseldorf; Galerie Forsblom, Helsinki; Galerie Terminus, Munich; Art Estate GmbH & Co, Hamburg; Private collection, Geneva

  • Exhibited

    Dusseldorf, Galerie Hans Mayer, Keith Haring, Bilder und Skulpturen, August 27 – October 31, 1988; Geneva, Mitterrand + Cramer, NAME DROPPING, September 18 – November 8, 2008

  • Catalogue Essay

    Keith Haring’s rendering of the human figure as comprised of flat, simple and emboldened lines and monochromatic color focuses our attention on the emotion and energy of what activity they are engaged in. Within his lexicon of iconic images and characters, Haring has removed all markers of identity, gender, race, creed, or religion- the resultant being raw, uncomplicated image and action. His characters are transformed with his bold language of line.

    The current lot depicts two boxers engaged in the “sweet science”. The unabashedly playful nature of the work is belied by bright coloring of the opponents. The figures appear locked in play fighting, or the embrace of a dance of celebration more so than in the grip of primal combat.

    “The spritely air of the sculptures, however, can be deceiving: they address formal issues of increasing complexity, and some – including Boxers… — allude to themes of aggression, pain and endangered balance that are not the conventional furniture of neighbourhood playgrounds. But the very word, “celebration” which the artist so frequently employed does not merely imply a carefree festival is also, as in the Eucharistic rites, can point to a solemn and reflective occasion. That implicit duality, present in Haring’s work from the very start, is one reason we look again at even his simplest ideograms, why they continue to strike a seemingly universal chord” (D. Galloway, “Bright, Shiny Toys…The Sculptural Legacy of Keith Haring,” Keith Haring, Milan, 2005, pp 26-27).

  • Artist Biography

    Keith Haring

    American • 1958 - 1990

    Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Keith Haring moved to New York City in 1978 at the age of 20 to study at the School of Visual Arts. By the early 1980s, Haring rose to prominence for his graffiti drawings made in the New York subways and streets. Alongside his friends Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kenny Scharf, who he met at the SVA, Haring became a leading figure of the East Village art scene through the 1970s and 1980s.

    Best known for his cartoon-like imagery developed through bold lines and vibrant colors, Haring refined a visual language of symbols that simplified forms to their most essential elements. Exploring the themes of birth and death, sex and war, social inequality, and love, his art bridged the high and low, erasing the distinctions between rarefied art, political activism, and popular culture. Despite his tragically brief career, Haring created a universal visual language embraced throughout the world, and his works are housed in many major collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris, Ludwig Museum, Cologne, and Nakamura Keith Haring Collection in Hokuto, Japan.

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Untitled (Boxers)

Polyurethane enamel on steel with an oval base.
47 x 36 1/2 x 32 in. (119.4 x 92.7 x 81.3 cm.)
This work is from an edition of three plus one artist’s proof. This work is the artist’s proof and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from the Estate of Keith Haring.

$250,000 - 350,000 

Sold for $362,500

Contemporary Art Part I

12 May 2011
New York