- Keith Haring
- ink and acrylic on paper
Sale: Sotheby's, New York, Contemporary Art part 2, 18 May 2000, lot 196
Acquired from the above by the current owner
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Keith Haring, 25 June - 21 September 1997; catalogue, p. 34, illustrated in colour
Paris, Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Keith Haring, Political Line, 19 April - 18 August 2013; catalogue, p. 83, illustrated in colour
Munich, Kunsthalle, Keith Haring, Gegen den Strich, 1 May - 30 August 2015; catalogue, p. 82, no. 2, illustrated in colour
Rotterdam, Kunsthal, Keith Haring, the Political Line, 20 September 2015 - 7 Feburary 2016
Please note that there is a loan request for this lot from the Tate Liverpool for the upcoming Keith Haring retrospective running from 14 June to 10 November 2019 and travelling to Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels (5 December 2019 - 19 April 2020) and the Museum Folkwang in Essen (May - September 2020).
Untitled dans l’exposition Keith Haring, the Political Line au Kunsthal, Rotterdam, 2015 © Photo: Jan Adriaans & Job Janssen
Keith Haring artwork © The Keith Haring Foundation
Keith Haring at Patti Astor's Fun Gallery in New York, 1983 © Martha Cooper
Keith Haring artwork © Keith Haring Foundation
A leading figure of street art and the New York underground movement, Keith Haring was doubtless one of the most audacious and charismatic artists of his time. Having achieved the amazing feat of imposing his own unique style on the international art scene in only just ten years, he died just before the age of 32, leaving a void which has never since been filled.
A popular figure, protestor and activist, Keith Haring never withdrew in face of difficulty and managed to become a star of contemporary art whilst never abandoning the street. He has often been reproached for his swift ascension. Yet, it was his celebrity which allowed him to tackle the great political and social issues of his time and to influence generations of artist in a profound and ever-lasting fashion.
Untitled, 1979 is one of his first works. Haring had just turned 21, the legal age in America and an age of artistic maturity for him. The all-over composition of this impressive drawing which covers the entire surface, is absolutely disturbing. It clashes with the work of other graffiti artists such as Daze or Futura 2000 with whom he tagged the walls of the New York subway that same year. The all-over composition, the choice of palette, the proliferation of the motif, the spontaneity of line all inscribe Untitled 1979 as much within the tradition of great American painting at the turn of the 20th century as within street art. Like Dubuffet with L’Hourloupe or the authors of the mysterious ancestral Nazca geoglyphs whose biomorphic lines are still the subject of numerous theories, Keith Haring developed his expression in unexplored territories.
Keith Haring seems to have taken the opposite path of most of his contemporaries. Rather than questioning the split between high art and low art by bringing the street into the museum, he preferred to disseminate art history in the street, thus creating a radically new art. Keith Haring was in no case self-taught and had been trained at the New York School of Visual Arts. And it is this which makes him a champion of alternative art. In the urban jungle of New York at the end of the 1970s, infested by police violence, racism, homophobia and drugs, Haring succeeded in breathing new life. Untitled, 1979 thus announces the future renaissance of New York, the birthplace of pop art, hip-hop and soon concept art and all that Haring contributed in creating.
Art is not an elitist activity reserved for the appreciation of a few, but for everyone.
My contribution to the world is my capacity to draw.