Keith Haring - Modern & Contemporary Art: Evening & Day Sale London Thursday, June 27, 2024 | Phillips
  • “Graffiti culture was blowing up. He was very much part of club culture, of high and low, that mix, which was the 1980s. His subway drawings were like a cinematic experience: as the train moved it seemed as though they were moving. It was an exciting time and he was exciting.”
    —Bill T. Jones on Keith Haring
    Emphasising form, vitality, and unrestrained movement, Keith Haring’s iconographic compositions generate their own mode of visual choreography, their repeating motifs and pronounced internal rhythms closely aligned to musical pattern and the embodied power of dance and performance. Although these elements had been well-established in the artist’s work before the 1890s, Haring’s first meeting with the legendary choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones and his partner Arnie Zane proved to be decisive, allowing him to harness the dynamic energy of his practice and harness its collaborative potential. Executed in 1984 on an enormous, immersive scale as part of Haring’s stage designs for Secret Pastures, The Garden of Radio Delight/The Beach is a record of this friendship, and the interdisciplinary collaborations produced by Haring, Jones, and Zane during this fruitful period. 

    The year before the present work’s execution, Haring had infamously painted Jones’ entire body in the simplified, bold patterns that had become synonymous with the artist’s unmistakable visual style found across his subway graffiti, designs, and immersive environments. Capturing the spirit of sexual liberation, freedom of expression, and provocative challenges to established discussions between so-called high and low culture that best characterised the era, Haring approached Jones with the idea for the project to coincide with the opening of his exhibition at Fraser Gallery in London. While the event itself shocked audiences, the documentation of this performance in film by Arnie Zane and in a series of photographs by Tseng Kwong Chi continued to reverberate and define an era, forming the basis of a second exhibition at Tony Shafrazi Gallery, and going on to become one of the most iconic and reproduced images of the 1980s.


    Bill. T. Jones on Keith Haring

    Secret Pastures

    Following a non-linear narrative focused on the divide between modern and more primitive modes of experience and exploring themes related to race, politics, economics, and sexuality, Secret Pastures was commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music and premiered by The Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Dance Company in the November of that year. A truly immersive, collaborative project, the 90-minute performance set Jones and Zane’s choreography against a score by art-rock composer Peter Gordon and his Love of Life Orchestra, blending Haring’s set designs with androgynous costumes by Smith and striking hair and makeup by Marcel Fieve. Undermining stereotypes related to gender and race, the performance featured Jones and Zane as the ‘fabricated man’ and ‘professor’ respectively, alongside a further eleven ensemble characters executing ‘angular, sharp, and sexually evocative movements, punctuating Gordon’s percussive, punk-inflected score and Haring’s iconographic homoerotic drawings on stage.’i 

    As critic Anna Kisselgoff noted, in conflating the kinetic, embodied, and highly charged visions of the two artists, the ‘sexual symbols embedded in [Keith Haring’s] landscapes […] echo the sexuality sometimes embedded in [Bill T. Jones’] choreography’, a blurring that became more established over the course of the performance, as the choreography builds and becomes more sexually explicit.ii In bridging the divide between high art and street culture, the performance broke down distinctions between artforms, the vitality of Haring’s compositions echoed in the dancer’s embodied performances who, ‘now wearing bright-coloured, tight-fitting athletic wear, transpose Haring’s drawings into a tableau: in a line of intertwined bodies, a dancer’s head crouches in between another dancer’s legs; one appears to bite another’s neck; and yet another dancer throws their head back in ecstasy.’iii


    Reimaging artistic collaboration as a radical mode of artistic freedom and expanding notions of embodiment, experience, and culture, Haring’s stage designs for Secret Pastures were critically praised, although the artist would only go on to produce one more major work for a theatrical performance, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, produced in the same year. Bold, brightly coloured, and full of vitality, The Garden of Radio Delight/The Beach not only represents a major work by the artist at the peak of his career, but documents an important artistic moment in the 1980s, embodying the radically collaborative, punk spirit at the heart of these performances. 


    Collector’s Digest


    • Bridging the gap between the art world and street culture, Keith Haring first rose to prominence in 1980s New York alongside artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, transposing the graphic immediacy and directness of graffiti into his art practice. 
    • The subject of major solo exhibitions at the Tate Gallery in London, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Albertina Museum in Vienna, examples of Haring’s work are held in major institutions around the world. 
    • Created in 1984 as part of the set design for Secret Pastures, a performance commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music and featuring choreography by The Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Dance Company, the present work is not only a striking example of Haring’s iconographic design but documents an important moment in interdisciplinary collaboration. 



    i Tiffany E. Barber, ‘Real Clothes for Real Dance’, in Alexandra Cunningham Cameron, ed., Willi Smith: Street Couture, exh. cat., Cooper Hewitt, Smithosian Design Museum, New York, 2020, p. 109.
    ii Anna Kisselgoff, ‘Dance: Jones and Zane offer Secret Pastures, The New York Times, November 17, 1984, online
    iii Tiffany E. Barber, ‘Real Clothes for Real Dance’, in Alexandra Cunningham Cameron, ed., Willi Smith: Street Couture, exh. cat., Cooper Hewitt, Smithosian Design Museum, New York, 2020, p. 109.

    • Provenance

      Collection of Bill T. Jones, New York (acquired directly from the artist)
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Literature

      Ballet News: The International Magazine of Dance, August 1985, vol. 7, no. 2 (illustrated on the front cover, p. 3)
      Art Performs Life: Merce Cunningham/Meredith Monk/Bill T. Jones, exh. cat., Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis, 1998, p. 144 (illustrated, p. 145)
      The Downtown Book: The New York Art Scene 1974-1984, exh. cat., Grey Art Gallery, Fales Library, New York University, Princeton, 2006, p. 24 (illustrated)
      Will Smith: Street Couture, exh. cat., Smithsonian Design Museum, New York, 2020, p. 225 (illustrated)

    • 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. 

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The Garden of Radio Delight/The Beach (double-sided)

acrylic on tarp, double-sided
191.8 x 477.5 cm (75 1/2 x 187 7/8 in.)
Executed in 1984.

This work is 1 of 2 unique tarps created for the Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Dance Company’s production of Secret Pasture which premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on 15 November 1984.

Full Cataloguing

£400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for £317,500

Contact Specialist

Louise Simpson
Associate Specialist
+44 7887 473 568

Modern & Contemporary Art: Evening & Day Sale

London Auction 27 June 2024