Lot 610
  • 610

Keith Haring

4,500,000 - 6,000,000 HKD
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  • Keith Haring
  • Untitled (twenty-three works)
  • marker on paper
  • executed in 1982


Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above

Each work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by The Estate of Keith Haring.


New York, Briggs Robinson Gallery, Keith Haring: The 1982 Coloring Book Drawings, October-December 2005 (each illustrated)


This work is in very good condition overall. All elements are framed. Each sheet is hinged in places on the reverse to the backing board. There is slight undulation to the sheets, and a few faint paper creases in places. There are minor accretions to some extreme edges of sheets, not affecting the images. There is a minor surface disruption on the extreme upper horizontal edge of one element, likely a result of the artist's working method.
"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

Radiant Child

This Untitled (Lot 610) group of 23 works on paper displays the dynamic visual vocabulary of Keith Haring, from his iconic radiant child to his flying dog. Taken together, these pieces imply a narrative at once ancient, replete with step pyramids and mythical figures, and of the moment as signified by the televisions and phones featured on other sheets. While the imagery speaks powerfully outside of a particular temporal context, these works, which are the basis for a limited edition coloring book that was published in the catalog for Haring’s first one-man exhibition at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery in 1982, also capture the moment when Haring evolved from a young SVA student fresh to New York City to a world renowned artist.

Works on paper and books in general had always been central to Haring’s practice. Growing up in Pennsylvania, Haring was inspired by the cartoons that his father would draw as well as the illustrated books and comics he read such as Dr. Seuss and Charles Schultz. When he began at SVA, Haring forged a unique visual vocabulary through drawing. The artist himself said: 

"I bought a roll of oak-tag paper and cut it up and put it all over the floor and worked on this whole group of drawings. The first few were abstracts, but then these images started coming. They were humans and animals in different combinations. Then flying saucers were zapping the humans. I remember trying to figure out where this stuff came from, but I have no idea. It just grew into this group of drawings. I was thinking about these images as symbols, as a vocabulary of things. In one a dog’s being worshipped by these people. In another one the dog is being zapped by a flying saucer. Suddenly it made sense to draw on the street, because I had something to say."1

Through working on large groups of drawings, Haring began to master the movements needed to create lines quickly and with intention – the perfect vernacular for the streets. When he became secure enough in his ability, he began to take his art to the streets.

Haring began tagging the subways of New York in the early 1980s. He used white chalk to draw on the black areas on subway walls that were reserved for advertisements. He intentionally drew during the day so that he would interact with the people on the platform who saw him. In this way, the act of drawing became performative.

During this time, Haring was working at the Tony Shafrazi gallery, which was becoming well known throughout New York and abroad. Shafrazi describes how Haring invited him to an exhibition of his own works: “So he gave me an invitation to an exhibition of his own work he had organized at Westbeth, a building that housed many artists. This was the first time I saw his work. The images were all cartoon and storyboard type drawings crammed with animated and highly stylized figures engaged in all sorts of ritualistic motion”.2 It was through the works on paper that Shafrazi became interested in the artist’s work and gave him his first solo show at his gallery in 1982.

The images on these works on paper all relate to a special colouring book that was included in the exhibition catalog for the 1982 solo show. Just as Haring tagged the blank spaces around the city, he invited fans to add to his works through the form of the coloring book. This exhibition occurred during a major year for the artist, jettisoning him into fame. This was the year that he participated in Documenta 7 in Kassel, the Sao Paulo Biennial, the Whitney Biennial in New York and completed his first major outdoor mural at Houston Street & the Bowery, which is now known as the Bowery Wall and is still used as an outdoor exhibition space for graffiti and street artists.

These works form the basis of Haring’s oeuvre, which encompass booklets, paintings and large murals. Created during the artist’s breakout year, they capture the dynamism and energy with which Haring entered into the New York scene.

[1] Keith Haring quoted in David Sheff, "Keith Haring: Just Say Know", Rolling Stone, August 10, 1989

[2] Tony Shafrazi quoted in exh. cat. The Keith Haring Show, Milan, Italy, 2005, p. 68

Artist Biography

Keith Haring (1958 – 1990, USA) produced an oeuvre entrenched in the sociopolitical aspects of New York City street culture during the 1980s. Haring attended Pittsburgh’s Ivy School of Professional Art from 1976 to 1978 where he studied commercial art, and enrolled at the School of Visual Arts in New York, where he studied painting. Haring’s participation in street art culture resulted in early recognition and the birth of several of his quintessential symbols, including “The Radiant Baby”. As Haring’s international celebrity grew, he began participating in a number of exhibitions in several international institutions, including Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York (1982); Documenta 7, Kassel (1982); and the Whitney Biennial, New York (1983), amongst others. His work has been highlighted in well as a number of posthumous exhibitions and is held in a number of major collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, the Bass Museum, Miami, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Ludwig Museum, Cologne, and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.