Lot 18
  • 18

Keith Haring

200,000 - 300,000 GBP
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  • Keith Haring
  • Untitled
  • signed, signed with the artist's monogram and dated April 1982 on the reverse
  • acrylic and ink on paper, in painted artist's frame
  • framed: 98.5 by 130 cm. 38 3/4 by 51 1/4 in.


Fun Gallery, New York
Private Collection, United States
Sotheby's, New York, 4 October 1990, Lot 239
Private Collection, United States
Christie's, New York, 26 September 2002, Lot 818
Private Collection, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner


New York, Fun Gallery, Keith Haring, February 1983


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate, although the pink is brighter in the original and tends more towards fluorescent pink. Condition: This work is in very good condition. The sheet is taped on the vertical sides to the inner edges of the frame. There are light staple impressions to each corner of the sheet, which are original. Upon extremely close inspection there is evidence of isolated drying cracks to the sheet. Further very close inspection reveals a tiny bump to the centre right of the extreme lower edge of the paper. There are some light specks of surface dirt to the outer margins. The frame is in good condition overall. Please refer to the department for a condition report of the frame.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Characterised by an unparalleled ease and technical confidence, Keith Haring’s mastery of the line has been compared to that of Pablo Picasso: both artists had the astonishing ability to start a line at any given point, and in a matter of minutes develop it into a harmonious composition without ever stepping back to contemplate their progress. Executed in 1982, still months before his first solo exhibition at Tony Shafrazi Gallery in New York and when the artist was only 24 years of age, the present work vividly captures Keith Haring’s raw talent and creative spirit in an extremely powerful composition. As evidenced by the vibrant colours and energetic handling of materials, with paint splatters and paint drips attesting to the immediacy of its execution, the artist’s confidence and unique visual language had already reached maturity at this young age, and would make him one of the most influential artists of his generation, despite his tragically short career.

The two dancing figures in Untitled perfectly capture the liberal spirit of the underground New York club culture of the early 1980s. As a regular of the famous Paradise Garage, the first multi-cultural gay club in New York where he often spent entire weekends in the company of people like Andy Warhol, Grace Jones and Madonna, and whose walls he covered with murals, Keith Haring was obsessed with music and dance. The dancer is in fact a crucial motif in the artist’s celebrated oeuvre, and is here captured in a vivid composition of two figures whose arms pulsate to the rhythm of the beat – or perhaps the multiplication of their limbs suggests the rapidly flashing strobe lights of a night club. The neon-pink background of the present work certainly brings to mind the fluorescent day-glo paint that Haring occasionally used in his work, and which lit up under the ultraviolet lights of a nightclub.

Like most of Keith Haring’s signature motifs, the dancer is a reflection of the artist’s interest in a non-academic art addressed at the public; inspired by Warhol’s public persona but also by Jean Dubuffet’s early interest in sub-cultures and alternative aesthetics. For Haring, as for Warhol or Dubuffet, this was a decidedly political choice. Dance not only embodied a celebration of life, but also brought attention to a sub-culture that was, if not blatantly ignored by the political establishment, largely marginalised. The New York gay scene in the 1980s was still a battleground for acceptance, as was indeed the case for most identity politics. The emerging club scene with places such as the Paradise Garage offered an alternative to the conservative mainstream and captured the emphasis on personal freedom and expression that has always been at the centre of Keith Haring’s work.

Untitled from 1982 stands as a powerful testament to Keith Haring’s life and work. Not only does it vividly capture the artist’s instantly recognisable aesthetic, it also demonstrates the unmatched immediacy of his paintings and his constant political engagement through one of his signature motifs. At once joyous and rebellious, the work represents the spirit of a generation in an exciting display of technical brilliance and visual power.