Keith Haring - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Friday, October 17, 2008 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Robert Fraser Gallery, London

  • Exhibited

    London, Robert Fraser Gallery, Keith Haring, 1983; Geneva, Musee d'art moderne et contemporain, 1995 - 2004 (on loan to the permanent collection); Salzburg, Museum der Moderne, 2004 - 2008 (on loan to the permanent collection); Lyon, Musee d'Art Contemporain, Keith Haring, 22 February - 29 June, 2008 

  • Literature

    A. Kolossa, Keith Haring, 1958-1990, A life for art, Cologne, 2007, p. 40 (illustrated); Exhibition catalogue, Musee d'Art Contemporain de Lyon, Keith Haring, Milan, 2008, p. 163 (illustrated)  

  • Catalogue Essay

    In the summer of 1980, an exhibition held in Times Square titled ‘underground art’, triggered the beginning of Keith Haring’s exhibiting career. It was this event that introduced Haring to established circles within the art world and placed him among already well established artists of the time, such as, Jean-Michael Basquiat, Kenny Scharf, and Andy Warhol, in turn introducing to the artist a new world of artistic concepts and trends, also providing a new avenue for joint artistic enterprises with his well established colleagues.
    Although Haring is known for his admiration of the virtuoso mentality of the graffiti artist and an initial interest in ‘street art’ is more than evident in Haring’s earlier work, the artist began to draw his artistic inspirations from a wider range of sources. In doing so, he started to distance himself from the styles utilised by the graffiti scene. It was at this point that influences from Central American, African, and Oceanic imagery started to make its way into the pictorial language of Keith Haring’s works. It was in this imagery that Haring found the collective symbols of imagination and the unconscious that allowed him to ‘reveal the essence of things’. It is rather clear now, looking at Haring’s work, that it had very little to do with graffiti art, and that his work came out of a desire to create an art for all but utilising a new language, a unique and personal one that could become a recognisable brand in the same manner of Warhol, using more idealistic and universal aims than that of his master.
    ‘The contrived use of a monochrome ground, the rapid and fluent course of a line of constant breadth, and a simple repertoire of forms designed to ensure instant recognisability, are the characteristic features of works with an immediate effect. For this reason, his images achieved an iconic status: the name Keith Haring was and  ontinues to be primarily associated with the graphic painting style in which areas of luminous colour are outlined in thick black contours. These lines are not just drawn for reasons of purely formal demarcation, but enjoy an aesthetic status of their own. The artist’s preferred palette comprises the colours red, blue, yellow and green. Applied unmixed and in large patches, they create no shrill single effect with no highlights of shading whatsoever. As far as motifs are concerned, Keith Haring had recourse primarily to those visual sources by which he himself was surrounded. From the archive of his personal experiences he drew the modules of his art, while at the same time continually varying the compositions of his works. The picture is dominated sometimes by a single figure, sometimes by many things going on at once. What we have are narrative or moods, but often no specific message is offered.’ (A. Kolossa, ‘Art Commerce and Children’, in Keith Haring 1958-
    1990: A life for art, Cologne, 2004. p. 35)
    It was at the point when Haring was starting to become more prolific and desirable that he developed the technique of working used in this present lot, during his first large solo show at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery New York 1982. Haring discovered that the vinyl tarpaulins were an ideal surface for his paintings, and displayed an economy of means that was inherent in his work, it is important that the material translates the ethos of the work and not just be decided on for aesthetic and practical reasons, this series on tarpaulin is a perfect embodiment of these three different entities. This lot presents to us a milieu of complex figures and yet displays perfect balance with the primary nature of the colour and the quality of the marks.

  • 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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Vinyl paint on vinyl tarpaulin.
247.5 x 246 cm. (97 1/2 x 96 7/8 in).
Signed, inscribed and dated 'K. Haring Sept. 10 1983' on the reverse.

£800,000 - 1,200,000 

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

18 Oct 2008, 7pm