Keith Haring - Contemporary Art Day Sale London Thursday, June 27, 2013 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galleria Salvatore ALA, Milan

  • Exhibited

    France, Musee departemental d’art contemporain de Rochechouart, Désir d'objets : une collection de vases contemporains, 13 September - 15 December 2003; then travelled to Belgium, Grand-Hornu (15 February - 4 July 2004)
    Belgium, Le Musée des Beaux-Arts Mons, Keith Haring All over, 9 May - 13 September 2009

  • Literature

    Autour de La Bd, Exh. cat., Palais des Beaux-Arts, Charleroi, 1985
    Désir d'objets : une collection de vases contemporains, Exh. Cat., Musee departemental d’art contemporain de Rochechouart, France, 2004
    Keith Haring All over, Exh. Cat.,Le Musée des Beaux-Arts Mons, Belgium, 2009, N. 80

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘ Present day aesthetics are an eclectic hybrid of the primitive
    and civilised, the old and the new.’

    “The confrontation between the history of vase paintings and the contemporary approach of drawing with marker and the mixture of contemporary and ancient symbols produces an ironic mixture of opposites.” (Keith Haring quoted on The Keith Haring Foundation website, Online.) The irony of opposites as Keith Haring describes, is
    unquestionably resolved in the present lot. Evolving from his early graffiti work in New York streets and subways, Haring’s vases challenge his traditional two-dimensional plane, creating a rich, textural, maze-like surface that commands the work to be rotated and viewed in the round, allowing the full complexity of composition to unfold.
    The terracotta vases themselves were sourced by Haring on a trip to a terracotta workshop in the outskirts of Milan, early in the 1980s. By covering the surface of the vase with his iconic characters in black marking ink, Haring plays upon the affinity to Greek black-figure pottery of 5th century BCE.

    Honing in on scale and pattern, there is a distinct rhythm within the formal characteristics of Haring’s imagery. The figures below the lip of the vase, for example, reflect this pulsating pattern, conjuring up not only a sense of dance-like movement, but from that, also a sense of sound. Haring, deeply influenced by hip-hop culture, aimed to create visual art that encompassed music and movement in addition to concept. Untitled from 1984 is highly developed in this regard. From an interview in 1985, Haring states: “[Art] should be something that liberates the soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further. It celebrates humanity instead of manipulating it.” (Keith Haring quoted in an interview with Sylvie Couderc, “The Ten Commandments, An Interview”, Bordeaux, 16 December 1985, Online.)

    This liberating and imaginative quality is inherent to Haring’s entire oeuvre, but is especially astute within his vase works, due to the three-dimensionality of the medium. Working in three dimensions allowed Haring to mimic the literal movement of the figures, intertwined as bands around the surface of the vase. In Untitled, by
    negating the gravitas of the physical vase and its allusions to the highly venerated art of the ancient world, the present lot becomes a contemporary homage to Haring’s New York City of the 1980s.

    For Haring, the figures, “in different combinations, were about the difference between human power and the power of animal instinct.It all came back to the ideas I learned from semiotics from [William S.] Burroughs – different juxtapositions would make different meanings.” (K. Haring and D. Sheff, “Keith Haring, An Intimate
    Conversation”, Rolling Stone, August 1989, Online.) Haring, whose motifs appear comical on the surface, relied on a myriad of sources to influence and educate his work from contemporary literature to music and the underground culture and social issues that infiltrated his daily life. Thus, Untitled, through its inimitable form, is an
    idiosyncratic piece that reveals an infinite reading of Haring’s most prized motifs.

  • 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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ink on terracotta vase
54.5 x 45 cm. (21 1/2 x 17 3/4 in.)
Signed and dated ‘K. Haring MAY 26 1984’ and bares the artist’s symbol on the underside.

£30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for £206,500

Contact Specialist
George O’Dell
Head of Day Sale
+44 207 318 4093

Contemporary Art Day Sale

London 28 June 2013 2pm