Keith Haring - Evening & Day Editions London Wednesday, January 17, 2024 | Phillips

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  • “All of the things that you make are a kind of quest for immortality...They don’t depend on breathing, so they’ll last longer than any of us will... it’s sort of extending your life to some degree.” 
    —Keith Haring

    Keith Haring’s Pyramid, made a year before his death in 1990, depicts a teeming crowd of his signature dog and dancing figure motifs. In this dynamic composition, they engage in a lively dance, contorting and morphing themselves within the boundaries of a triangular sheet of aluminium that resembles an Egyptian pyramid. Haring was fascinated by Egyptian visual culture, particularly hieroglyphics. As a graffiti artist navigating the risks of creating art in public spaces, he was especially drawn to the ancient iconography's ability to convey complex emotions and ideas through deceptively simple motifs. As a result, he developed an idiosyncratic visual language of symbols that can both be drawn quickly and also convey profound emotions and ideas. Drawing on the similarities between his art and that of ancient Egypt, Haring acknowledged the shared aim of creating life through imagery, rather than merely imitating it.


    Left: Shabti coffin fragment of Queen Tiaa, c. 1400-1390 BC, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1926
    Right: Keith Haring Pyramid, 1989 (detail)

    Pyramids, an instantly recognisable visual cue of ancient Egypt, were a motif that Haring returned to frequently, as they became a touchstone for his considerations of the enduring qualities of art. Following his AIDS diagnosis in 1988, Haring was concerned with the longevity of and, in particular, the lasting impact of his own practice. Within Pyramid, this concern is manifested in its connections to the enduring legacy of ancient Egypt. The recurring pyramid motif served as a visual metaphor for the enduring qualities he sought to embed within his own artistic legacy.


    Gustave le Gray, Pyramids of Giza, 1865-69, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Robert Shapazian, 2009

    In the 1980s, there was a notable resurgence of fascination with ancient Egyptian culture, prominently exemplified by the Bangles' chart-topping hit, "Walk Like an Egyptian", released in 1986. The song not only achieved commercial success but also contributed to a popular dance trend featuring distinctive hand gestures and poses inspired by ancient Egyptian art. This cultural revival permeated the realms of fashion, graphic design, film an television. Keith Haring's incorporation of Egyptian motifs in works such as Pyramid further contributed to the era's cross-cultural fascination, making ancient Egyptian aesthetics a dynamic part of the broader artistic landscape of the 1980s.



    • Provenance

      Personal copy of the publisher and part of the Archive of Edition Schellmann since time of publication

    • Literature

      Jörg Schellmann, ed., Forty Are Better Than One, Munich/New York, 2009, pp. 146-147 (no. 19)

    • 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

Works from the Archive of Edition Schellmann to benefit the Ars Publicata Project



Anodized aluminium plate in yellow and blue.
103 x 145.4 cm (40 1/2 x 57 1/4 in.)
Incised with signature, date and numbering 7/30 on the reverse (there were also 6 artist's proofs), published by Edition Schellmann, Munich and New York.

Full Cataloguing

£30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for £50,800

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Rebecca Tooby-Desmond
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Robert Kennan
Head of Editions, Europe

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Senior International Specialist, Editions

Louisa Earl
Associate Specialist, Editions

Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 17 - 18 January 2024