Keith Haring - Evening & Day Editions London Thursday, June 6, 2024 | Phillips
  • “If I was going to draw, there had to be a reason. That reason, I decided, was for people. The only way art lives is through the experience of the observer. The reality of art begins in the eyes of the beholder and gains power through imagination, invention, and confrontation.”
    —Keith Haring

    Standing as one of his most iconic motifs, Keith Haring’s barking dog imagery first appeared in his subway drawings of the early 1980s. To create these drawings, Haring ventured through the subway tunnels in search of expired advertisements that had been painted-over with matte black paint by the authorities. For Haring, these were readily-primed canvases inviting him to draw. Wielding chalk, he transformed the mundane surfaces into enlivened realms of social commentary. Creating his distinctive imagery of bright, bold lines and energetic figures against the deep, black background, his subway drawings conveyed messages of unity, love, and defiance against societal injustices such as AIDS, racism, and homophobia. These powerful sentiments were embodied by the dog motif, which endured across Haring’s oeuvre, from his ephemeral, spontaneous graffiti, through painted and printed forms, to the solid, permanence of his wood and concrete sculptures.


    Keith Haring, Untitled, 1982. Image: Ivan Dalla Tana, Artwork: © Keith Haring Foundation

    The dog motif served as a pertinent critique of the pervasive homophobia of the 1980s. Public anxiety about the number of dogs in the city exploded and local health campaigns pushed for dog owners to clean up after their pets and “put children before dogs”. The subtext of the campaigns was not lost on the gay community; it echoed the homophobic public discourse around gay relations, which was becoming increasingly visible as liberation movements grew in power. Haring’s dog, often depicted as a barking, chain-linked figure, therefore reflected the politically charged status of both dogs and homosexual men in New York at the time. As well as his chalk subway drawings, Haring made Xeroxed collages of newspaper clippings featuring dogs, which he pasted on lampposts and shopfronts in downtown Manhattan. Also, further demonstrating the symbolic potency of the dog symbol to Haring, he would hand-out badges featuring a dog to members of the public on the subway.


    "Children Before Dogs (C.B.D.)" poster, 1971.

    Haring’s utilisation of the dog motif through various channels of public art was an outlet of expression aimed at undermining the discriminatory mainstream discourse. Eschewing traditional gallery spaces and employing a visual language accessible to all, Haring democratised his art, inviting the public to engage with his work on equal footing. This deliberate accessibility dismantled barriers to understanding, fostering a sense of inclusivity and empowerment among viewers, as well as challenging notions of elitism. As Haring wrote, “There is something very “real” about the subway system and the people who travel in it; perhaps there is not another place in the world where people of such diverse appearance, background, and lifestyle have intermingled for a common purpose. In this underground environment, one can often feel a sense of oppression and struggle in the vast assortment of faces. It is in this context that an expression of hope and beauty carries the greatest rewards.”


    Dog exemplifies Haring’s iconic, idiosyncratic visual language, which he developed whilst making the subway drawings. As they were regarded as graffiti and occasionally led to brushes with the law, “the drawings are by necessity quick and simple” Haring said; “this is not only for easy readability but also to avoid getting arrested.” Concurrently, whilst studying at New York’s School for Visual Arts, Haring became increasingly drawn to the iconography of ancient Egypt and hieroglyphics, owing to their ability to convey complex emotions and ideas through deceptively simple motifs. This significantly influenced Haring as he developed his unique form of draughtsmanship, which could both be drawn quickly and convey profound emotions and ideas.


    Left: Statuette of Anubis, 332-330 B.C., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Mrs. Myron C. Taylor, 1938
    Right: Keith Haring at the Paradise Garage, date and photographer unknown.

    The dog motif closely echoes imagery of Anubis, the ancient Egyptian god associated with funerary rites and grave protection. Anubis is commonly represented as a dog-man hybrid with a canine head and a human body. Haring's Dog, adorned with drawings of dancing figures, man-dog hybrids, erotic scenes, and more, playfully subverts the traditional notions of protection linked with Anubis. In this way, Haring challenged the authority and governmental power symbolised by the dog, turning it into a dynamic expression of rebellion and creative dissent. Haring was not alone in using dog imagery in this way, artists including Jenny Holzer, David Wojnarowicz, and Martin Wong similarly appropriated the motif as an emblem of queer resistance. Each artist used the dog as subject to challenge the surrounding narrative of fear and contagion. Within this context, Haring’s Dog not only reflects the need for voices against injustice but highlights a period of creative revolution against the dehumanisation of gay desire.


    ‘Keith Haring Was Here’, CBS Evening News, October 20, 1982. 

    • Provenance

      Gifted by the artist to Jörg Schellmann
      Further gifted to the present owner

    • Literature

      see Jörg Schellmann, ed., Forty Are Better Than One, Munich/New York, 2009, pp. 141-143

    • 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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Property from a Private Collection, Germany



Unique multiple comprised of screenprint in yellow on black enamel painted plywood.
128 x 95 x 2.4 cm (50 3/8 x 37 3/8 x 7/8 in.)
Signed, dated, dedicated 'FOR JÖRG' and annotated 'TRIAL PROOF' in silver ink on the reverse (a unique trial proof before the total edition of 35 comprising 15 white on black, 10 red on black, 10 black on yellow, and 7 artist's proofs), published by Edition Schellmann, Munich and New York.

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£200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for £355,600

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Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 6 - 7 June 2024