- Keith Haring
- Untitled (Dancing Dogs)
- sumi ink and acrylic on paper mounted on canvas
- 108 x 191 1/2 in. 274.3 x 486.4 cm.
- Executed in 1981.
Jeffrey Deitch, Inc., New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 2001
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Keith Haring, June - September 1997, pp. 162-163, illustrated in color
Milan, Fondazione Triennale di Milano, The Keith Haring Show, September 2005 - January 2006, pl. 163, pp. 318-319, illustrated in color
Paris, Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Keith Haring, the Political Line, April - August 2013, cat. no. 61, pp. 126-127, illustrated in color
Haring’s larger than life dancing dog figures bark at each other and proceed across the canvas from right to left, resembling contemporary re-imaginations of the half-human half-jackal Egyptian deity Anubis, and formally emulating the ancient iconography that depicted figures within narratives as two-dimensionally flattened and walking linearly in side profile. The vibrant painting is notable for its exceptionally sumptuous drips, as cascades of fluid ink and acrylic pour down and across the surface. While Haring here deploys similar forms as in his formative subway chalk drawings, the expressive joie de vivre of the drips juxtaposed with the hard-edged lines of his archetypal bold shapes exemplify Haring’s mastery over the painterly medium, bridging his Pop language with the critical gravitas of Abstract Expressionism. Just as we can visualize Pollock vigorously taking paint to canvas, exuding his heroic genius with every gestural drip and pour, Untitled (Dancing Dogs) analogously conjures Haring’s performance of painting—the ineluctable motion of the image parallels Haring’s own instinctive, primal dance with brush and canvas.
For Roy Lichtenstein, Pop art's master of color, painterly control and penetrating intelligence, Haring’s paintings were deserving of the highest praise: “Keith composes in an amazing way. I mean, it’s as if he dashes the painting off—which in a way he does—but it takes enormous control, ability, talent, and skill to make works that become whole paintings. They’re not just arbitrary writings. He really has a terrific eye! And he doesn’t go back and correct—this is in itself amazing—and his compositions are of a very high level. And he has such wit!” (Roy Lichtenstein quoted in John Gruen, Keith Haring: The Authorized Biography, 1992, p. 124)