Keith Haring - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Tuesday, May 16, 2023 | Phillips

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  • “The thing I responded to most was the belief that art could reach all kinds of people, as opposed to the traditional view, which has art as this elitist thing.”
    — Keith Haring


    Representative of the late artist’s signature style, Keith Haring’s Untitled from 1981 presents us with a graphic image rendered in gold atop a black background. Working to blur the boundaries between street and fine art, Haring developed his own distinct iconography to explore difficult themes such as sexuality, the AIDS epidemic, and drug abuse. With its black support, the present work recalls Haring’s infamous New York City Subway drawings. In those works, Haring aimed to make art accessible to everyone and reach a diverse audience. The present work's use shiny gold felt-tip on plastic is indicative of that goal – an allusion to the white chalk used underground in the subway. The present work represents this first foray into using found objects as supports for his works, a practice which would continue throughout his career, and again alludes to his subway beginnings.


    Using his signature style of energetic lines and rounded, cartoonish forms, Untitled captures the energy of the downtown New York art scene in which Haring was embedded. Created just before his groundbreaking exhibition at Tony Shafrazi Gallery in 1982, in which the artist recreated a club-like environment complete with a DJ and ultraviolet light, the present work bridges the gap between the high and low art and presenting it in a way that is approachable for all.

    • Provenance

      Estate of the Artist, New York
      Private Collection, Paris
      Galerie Jérôme Noirmont, Paris
      Private Collection (acquired from the above in 2006)
      Christie's, London, February 13, 2020, lot 129
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Paris, Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont, Keith Haring: Sex Show, September–November, 2002
      Paris, Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont, Keith Haring, September 13–October 30, 2006

    • 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 from a Distinguished Private Collector



signed, inscribed and dated "June 28-81 K. Haring NYC" on the reverse
gold felt-tip pen on plastic
20 7/8 x 25 1/8 in. (53 x 63.8 cm)
Executed on June 28, 1981.

Full Cataloguing

$180,000 - 220,000 

Contact Specialist

Annie Dolan

Specialist, Head of Sale, Morning Session
+1 212 940 1288

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 16 May 2023