Keith Haring - Contemporary Art Day Sale London Wednesday, October 15, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, New York
    Private Collection, Switzerland

  • Exhibited

    New York, Woodward Gallery, Keith Haring New York, 12 September - 30 October 2009

  • Catalogue Essay

    Untitled (Subway Drawing) is a characteristic example from the series of chalk drawings by American artist and activist Keith Haring. Drawing inspiration from the street culture of Eighties’ New York, Haring’s pictorial style is immediately recognisable. His unmistakeable network of emblems and symbols function like Egyptian hieroglyphics, operating as visual language. Steeped in the history, language and imagery of graffiti, the universe Haring creates in Untitled (Subway Drawing) betrays darker themes amidst more comic overtones.

    The artist’s use of chalk in the present lot is particularly charged: it combines the play of childhood with a gritty underworld. The black field of Untitled (Subway Drawing) acts as a visual parallel to the schoolroom blackboard as well as recalling imagery of cave paintings. The use of chalk also harkens to Depression-Era tramp culture, where hobos communicated to each other through a secret language written on passing cargo trains. The fantastical imagery of the man dog barking at the UFOs evokes a kind of modern-day Hieronymus Bosch, foreboding the darker future that lies ahead. There is a violent tension in Haring’s masterful injection of humour, lending an energy and mystery to Untitled (Subway Drawing).

  • 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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Untitled (Subway Drawing)

chalk on paper laid on canvas
232 x 120.5 cm (91 3/8 x 47 1/2 in.)

£60,000 - 80,000 

Contact Specialist
Henry Highley
Head of Day Sale

+44 207 318 4061

Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 16 October 2014 2pm