The Fertility Suite

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  • Condition Report

  • Literature

    Klaus Littmann pp. 31-33

  • Video

    Keith Haring, 'The Fertility Suite', 1984

    Editions & Works On Paper, 25 October

  • 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 Bio

    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

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 

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Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 25 October 2019