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  • Video

    Keith Haring, 'The Fertility Suite', Lot 105

    Editions & Works On Paper, 25 October

  • Literature

    Klaus Littmann pp. 31-33

  • Catalogue Essay

    A simple line drawing of a crawling infant illuminated by radiating lines symbolized, perhaps, the most pervasive icon of Keith Haring’s oeuvre: the ‘Radiant Baby.’ “The reason that the ‘baby’ has become my logo or signature,” said Haring in 1981, “is that it is the purest and most positive experience of human existence. Children are the bearers of life in its simplest and most joyous form.” A child of Pop Art, Keith Haring grew up as the older brother to three younger sisters. The youngest, Kristen, was born when Haring was already eleven years old, and her young life would have a significant impact on the artist.

    Haring learned to draw when he was four years old. His father would draw him simple cartoon character line drawings which Haring would copy. Greatly influenced by the linear nature and narrative power of cartoons and comics, Haring learned by emulating both. The Fertility Suite, a set of six screenprints draws upon comics through Haring’s use of thick contours and vivid colors. Large bellied dancing pregnant women appear to worship a kind of ‘fertility god’ in one scene, and a 'radiant baby' in another. Extraterrestrial space ships intervene beaming down upon a pyramid as a pregnant figure cheers on. These are images that celebrate the creation of life in all its absurdity.

    Alongside the making of these prints in 1983, Haring’s close friends began to have babies. Kenny Scharf and Tereza Scharf, Haring’s contemporaries and friends had a daughter that very year, whose childhood touched Haring’s life. “I think Keith used the baby as a symbol of purity. It’s a symbol of hope,” said Kenny Scharf. “This world is so f—ked up, there’s disease and killings, but the baby is still born. Each baby embodies that hope that we all believe in and have to believe in if we’re going to keep on going. That’s so powerful.”

  • 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.

    View More Works

105

The Fertility Suite

1983
The complete set of five screenprints in colors, on wove paper, with full margins, including the original cardboard portfolio with screenprinted text and image.
all I. 41 x 47 1/4 in. (104.1 x 120 cm)
all S. 42 x 50 in. (106.7 x 127 cm)

All signed, dated and numbered 27/100 in pencil (there were also 15 artist's proofs), published by Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York, all framed.

Estimate
$180,000 - 250,000 

Sold for $225,000

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Evening & Day Editions

New York Auction 25 October 2019