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

    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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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