Keith Haring - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Tuesday, October 13, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection

  • Exhibited

    New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Keith Haring, 25 June-21 September 1997 (another example exhibited)
    New York, Tony Shafrazi Gallery, Keith Haring 20th Anniversary, 13 February-24 April, 2010 (another example exhibited)

  • Literature

    J. Gruen, Keith Haring: the Authorized Biography, London: Thames and Hudson, 1991, p. 192 (large scale example illustrated)
    E. Sussman, Keith Haring, exh. cat., Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1997, p. 221 (another example illustrated)
    Keith Haring, exh. cat., Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen, 2000, p. 19 (another example illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘Everything was a matter of performance, an activity cherished by American artists since Kaprow and Pollock. But why was it hip-hop for Keith and not jazz, the ideal music for Basquiat? Hip-hop makes you bend your legs, arms and neck to the folds of amazing patterns. Hip-hop twists where you least expect it. Forget about elbows and knees being subservient to a central organism. The centre is no more. There is disjointed flexibility, a machine body, electronic-mechanical individuation, a tube body.’ (Pierre Sterckx in ed. G. Mercurio, Keith Haring, Lyon 2008, p.108-109)

    Constantly looking at the world around him for inspiration, Keith Haring found great interest in capturing the jiving forms of contemporary dancers – looking at the break dance and electric boogie culture taking hold of America’s youth in the late twentieth century. These dances represented a new fusion of acrobatics and steps. Frozen in mid-spin or lift, Haring's figurative sculptures frequently show pairs of dancers displaying an array of gravity-defying moves. Thus, the fleeting transience of a fast dance move is given an enduring permanence through sculpture.

    In Untitled (Head Stand), Haring presents two figures in a ‘totem pole’ sequence where the man balancing on top relies on the strength and stability of his counterpart below. The vibrant colours and the typical cartoon-like style contribute to the jovial and naive sensibility of this work. Meanwhile, the iridescent surface and use of interlocking forms imbues the work with a toy-like quality that mirrors Haring’s wish to create works that people feel the need to play with. A vocal supporter of Alexander Calder’s sculptures, Haring was captivated by their ‘simple, clear, poetic quality to which anyone can respond. Kids like him, too, because his work has spirit, comes from the spirit’ (K. Haring, quoted in G. Celant (ed.), Keith Haring, New York 1997, p. 23). Thus, the vivid hues and simplified forms incorporated in Haring’s sculpture emulate the key formal characteristics of his predecessor and, in this way, make Haring’s visual language accessible to all.

    Dance as a subject matter appealed to Haring for many reasons, not just because of the bold shapes it cast. The social equilibrium enabled through this inclusive activity dispelled any pretentions or judgements, and instead brought a variety of people of all backgrounds together. The spiritual transcendence of dance enchanted Haring and as a result, he returned to the idea in many of his sculptures, paintings and drawings. Haring produced over fifty public sculptures globally between 1982 and 1989; just looking at this wide array of colossal works in steel one can see the profound influence of dance. Remarkable silhouettes arise out of his explorations into this theme and Untitled (Head Stand) is an expressive model of this topic. Rendered in a characteristically large size, it does not however, demand as much space as his prominent public sculptures. Therefore, it wonderfully brings to light one of Haring’s purest subject matters in an eye-catching display of colour and movement that inevitably instils a childlike joy in the beholder.

  • 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. 

    View More Works

Property from the Estate of Dr. Fredric S. Brandt, Miami

Ο ◆12

Untitled (Head Stand)

polyurethane enamel on steel
210 x 116 cm (82 5/8 x 45 5/8 in.)
This work is from an edition of 3.

£400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for £482,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
[email protected]
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London 14 October 2015 7pm