Keith Haring - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Wednesday, November 16, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, New York (acquired directly from the artist)
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1989

  • Exhibited

    New York, Fun Gallery, Keith Haring, February 3 - 27, 1983

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present two lots are beautiful examples of Keith Haring’s genius and dexterity as an artist. The early 1980s are the most sought after years of Keith Haring’s tragically short and intense career. Starting at an early age when his father made him sketches of characters from comic strips through his graffiti days in the New York subway, Haring invented his own alphabet of contemporary artistic language. Under the influence of Andy Warhol and contemporary to Jean-Michel Basquiat, Haring believed that art was a product of the individual and the ultimate expression of individuality. He chose the public realm for his art out of curiosity and an embrace of his temperament as well as his generosity. Enjoying success at a very young age, his philosophy was an idea of universal art strongly influenced by the aesthetics of decoration and eighties post-modernism.

    The early 1980s were a heady time in New York, and particularly within the specific artistic milieu with which Haring ran. By 1983, Haring had his first exhibition, his coming out of sorts within the New York art world, at Tony Shafrazi Gallery the year prior, and his exhibition in February of 1983 at Fun Gallery would firmly establish his place among the pantheon of the scene. “Fun Gallery was the epicenter of this new scene. Opening nights spilled into the streets, as the graffiti kids tried to figure out how their art could move from the walls of the city to the walls of the gallery. From the beginning, Keith Haring was one to watch. He was respected below ground and up above.” (Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, “An Afternoon with Keith”, The Keith Haring Show, exh. cat., Fondazione Triennale di Milano, 2005, p. 111) Completely covering the walls, the two installed an exhibition of a variety of material and objects. These two particular works, executed on calf hides, were installed – one directly on the wall (Lot 145), and the other on the door to Fun Gallery’s office (Lot 146). Employing his trademark style and graphic line, Haring adorned and imbued these hides with his frenetic energy and iconography. Taking his almost tribal line directly to this very ancient support of hide, Haring brought the ancient, the mythic, the Dionysian into the mania of 1980s New York.

    Haring’s art has always been so powerful because it has an ability to embody so many meanings and to be relevant for so many people. Grounded in art historical tradition from Legér and Dubuffet to Egyptian and aboriginal hieroglyphs and petroglyphs, Haring’s art also encapsulated the immediacy and directness of the man himself and the times in which he came of age. One need not have any artistic schooling to realize that Haring exemplified that singularly unifying trait of all artists, to share something with the rest of humanity. Melding high and low, destroying barriers between public and private, the elite strata of the art world and the grittiness of his East Village locale, Haring and works such as these two Untitled paintings serve now as particular talismans from an age gone by, but forever relevant.

  • 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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signed and dated "K. Haring JAN. 26 1983" on the reverse
Sumi ink and acrylic on found hide
38 x 43 1/2 in. (96.5 x 110.5 cm.)
Executed in 1983.

$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for $418,000

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York Auction 17 November 2016