1983 was a significant year for the young Keith Haring. Just months before, the artist burst into the New York Art scene with his debut solo exhibition at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery, and by 1984 he was a household name, with solo shows in major Art institutions across the globe. 1983 marks the crystallisation of the artist’s mature style, bridging the gap between two distinct phases of his tragically brief artistic career.
With his instantly recognisable and highly legible forms, Haring entirely circumnavigated the traditional path from underground culture to mainstream popularity and art-world stardom. The artist’s remarkable application of Pop imagery and tabulated symbolic language succinctly captured the booming social culture of the downtown New York scene in the early eighties, and as such became immensely popular at breakneck speed. His signature lexicon of stick figures, crawling babies and barking dogs became ubiquitous through his subway drawings and public performances. As Haring took his signature hieroglyphic language to the streets, his practice vibrated with enthusiasm for a utopic, populist art form rooted in connection and community. Haring envisaged a universal, anti-elitist language of direct and simplified form rendered in exuberant popping primary colours. This was an art for the people.
Untitled stands as a relic of the optimism of this moment of Haring’s practice. Rendered in bold contoured lines of vibrant lime green, two androgynous human silhouettes greet one another with an embrace. The pared-down palette vibrates with chromatic intensity bouncing from wall to wall within the perfectly square borderline. Electrifying lines of primary red radiate from the figures, evoking a sense of celebration that reverberates in waves across this monolithic lemon-yellow canvas, pulsating in beams not limited to the surface of the picture plane but spilling out to the viewer, with an infectious feeling of pure joy imbued with the spirit of the times. Untitled is a celebration of jovial coexistence. At once vibrantly expressive and lyrically balanced, the present work is brimming with a potent energy of optimism. Rendered in Haring’s brilliant, universal visual language, the figures pulsate with a sense of riotous glee and youthful exuberance perfectly reflective of this period of the artist’s carer. Untitled epitomises Haring’s brilliant ability to convey feeling and emotion through forms distilled to their most basic, essential components.
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