Keith Haring - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Tuesday, October 4, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 1988

  • Catalogue Essay

    Keith Haring's arrival in Milan in 1984, at the invitation of fashion designer Elio Fiorucci and art dealer Salvatore Ala, was an extraordinary event. In the mid-eighties Haring represented the peak of a new wave of artists. His art was addressing underground culture and focusing on an issue that would transform the nightlife of New York and around the world: the AIDS epidemic. Vibrant, fresh and committed to his own generation, Haring was able to reach many different audiences at the same time. Haring is arguably more iconic than anybody else within his generation - his visual language is immediately unmistakable, like the golden arches of of McDonalds or the curvaceous script of Coca-Cola. Haring's capacity to communicate transformed his art into a marketing tool for the culture of those years.

    In Milan, the core of the night life was a club called Plastic - run by the charismatic figure of Nicola Guiducci. Guiducci was a DJ and entrepreneur who made Plastic the place to be for writers, photographers, fashion designers and artists. The affinity between Haring and Guiducci was natural as they both shared the same energy. Every night when Keith Haring had finished working on his exhibition at Salvatore Ala Gallery he went to Plastic to hang out until dawn with his partner and friend Guiducci. While DJing, Guiducci's body language resembled one of Haring's figures- hectic, happy and full of open desires. The exchanges between Haring and Guiducci became deeper and deeper both at a cultural and creative level. Nicola Guiducci became a regular at Haring’s studio in lower Manhattan and in 1988 during one of Guiducci’s visits Haring gifted him with the present lot. The image, in its essential form, reflects symbolically the fecundity (both sexual and artistic) that the two friends were sharing. Guiducci remembers that once he accepted the gift he had to carry it through Soho and the Lower East Side like a sandwich man advertising the art of his friend. An image that very much matches the spirit of Haring moving around among people, sharing his power and message to heal and change the illnesses of the society.

    In Haring’s mind, like an artist from a Paleolithic cave, a man blooming out of a phallus was the most effective symbol for regeneration and creativity. Through his work Keith Haring was professing his belief that through the intercourse between art and people a happier world could be created and healed from the evils of repression and hypocrisy.

  • 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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signed, titled and dedicated '© K Haring 88 May 1988, "FOR NICOLA WITH LOVE + ADMIRATION - Keith"' on the overlap
acrylic on canvas
126 x 97 cm (49 5/8 x 38 1/4 in.)
Painted in 1988.

£300,000 - 400,000 

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

Henry Highley
Head of Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 5 October 2016