Keith Haring - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Tuesday, October 14, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles
    Private Collection, 1988
    Martin Lawrence Galleries, Las Vegas

  • Exhibited

    Los Angeles, Michael Kohn Gallery, Keith Haring, One person show, June - July 1988
    Milan, Fondazione Triennale di Milano, The Keith Haring Show, 27 September 2005 - 29 January 2006

  • Literature

    The Keith Haring Show, exh. cat., Fondazione Triennale di Milano, Milan, 2006, p. 292, no. 135 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Keith Haring’s work confronts classical scenes of birth, death, sexuality, and war with an Americanised, Pop oriented twist. His work can be interpreted as heavily political and clearly demonstrates both social and personal influences while his innovative artistic language and heavy symbolism is based on his own personal tragedies and experiences. Haring established friendships with artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol, who later became one of the themes of his oeuvre and, after his death, decisively affected his contemporary success. During his brief yet intensive career Haring’s works were featured in over a hundred solo and group exhibitions and received large amounts of press and media attention.

    One of many tropes apparent in Haring’s work is that of sexuality. Haring's work aims to depict the stigma associated with homosexual relationships in an aesthetically interesting and captivating manner. The use of this insight into Haring’s work enables the viewer to further understand his works, such as this particular lot Untitled, from 1988. The piece includes the themes consistent to Haring's oeuvre; those of patterns, colour, silhouette, gesture and kinetic energy. Untitled creates an aura of continuous fluidity while still incorporating block colour and decisive outline. The sense of unity juxtaposed with clearly defined colour and line separations is a perfect example of the mimesis present in Haring’s oeuvre. The piece strives for complicity between art and society, between depiction and subject matter.

    Untitled is a painted, square-form depiction of two male figures both reflected and intertwined along a central axis. The piece employs the use of block colour and dividing line and thus alludes to pattern and stencil technique. The two interlocking figures are depicted in a bright green and are outlined by a thick, orange line that recurs throughout the painting. The figures are displayed upon a geometric black background that in turns rests on the exterior red surrounding. Observers have discussed the decorative quality of Haring’s artistic approach and highlight its repetitive quality as emphatic in the presentation of a particular idea. The design allows for the conversion of any condition or situation into a cohesive and successful piece of art.

    The techniques of form-liquefaction and interweaving, as inherent to this painting, were transfused into his iconography. The identification of sexual imagery and the depiction of controversial themes contribute to Haring’s status and global renown. The depicted erotic and interactive relationships in the painting allude to their political and social associations. Haring’s painting represents a site of transformation where colours, object, lines and forms are subjected to a creative catharsis and then transformed to represent a plethora of human activity and sentiment. The origin for Haring’s interest in live action and gesture can be linked to his early experience as a live video performer. He studied at the New York School of visual arts in the late 1970’s and there discovered the power of physical language and depiction. In 1980, soon after leaving the School of Visual Arts, alongside the blossoming of the graffiti on the streets and subway systems of New York, Haring began drawing his own graffiti on the streets. The artist states: 'graffiti were the most beautiful things I ever saw, the kids who were doing it were very young and from the streets, but they had this incredible mastery of drawing which totally blew me away. I mean, just the technique of drawing with spray paint is amazing, because it’s incredibly difficult to do. And the fluidity of line, and the scale, and always the hard-edged black line that tied the drawings together! It was the line I had been obsessed with since childhood!' (John Gruen, Keith Haring)

    Like other graffiti artists, he invented his own tag or signature. Haring’s initial tag was in the form of an animal but developed to depict a human figure and thus created the artists current expansive, personal vocabulary. In 1986, Haring opened his ‘Pop Shop’ in SoHo where many of his design-products were sold. In this way amongst others, Haring aimed to render art more accessible: 'A more holistic and basic idea of wanting to incorporate [art] into every part of life, less as an egotistical exercise and more natural somehow. I don’t know how to exactly explain it. Taking it off the pedestal. I’m giving it back to the people, I guess.'(Daniel Drenger, 'Art and Life: An Interview with Keith Haring,' Columbia Art Review 1988)

    The development and expansion of Haring’s oeuvre was unfortunately hindered in 1988, the very year in which Untitled was painted. During his development within the art world Haring was exposed to the loss of many of his friends to AIDS and, in 1988, discovered that he had also become subject to the illness. Although the disease affected his work physically it did also augment it psychologically, evident in his strife to render his work infinite and thus conquer his own human finality. Haring explained: 'all of the things that you make are a kind of quest for immortality. Because you’re making these things that you know have a different kind of life. They don’t depend on breathing, so they’ll last longer than any of us will. Which is sort of an interesting idea, that it’s sort of extending your life to some degree.'(Daniel Drenger, “Art and Life: An Interview with Keith Haring,' Columbia Art Review 1988) Haring passed away in 1990, yet as he desired, his work remains infinite in its integral role in contemporary art and society.

  • 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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acrylic on canvas
91.5 x 91.7 cm (36 x 36 1/8 in.)
Signed and dated '© K. Haring 1988 APRIL' on the overlap.

£250,000 - 350,000 

Sold for £602,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 15 October 2014 7pm