Lot 196
  • 196

KEITH HARING | Untitled (Brasil)

300,000 - 400,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Keith Haring
  • Untitled (Brasil)
  • signed, titled and dated 1986; signed, dated Jan 21 - 1986 and inscribed on the overlap
  • acrylic on canvas
  • diameter: 76.2 cm. 30 in.


Private Collection (acquired directly from the artist)
Tereza Scharf, Miami
Kevin Bruk Gallery, Miami
Private Collection
Christie's, London, 1 July 2008, Lot 344
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Colours: The colours in the printed catalogue are fairly accurate, although the overall tonality is brighter and more vibrant in the original. Condition: Please refer to the Contemporary Art Department for the condition report for this work.
"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

Executed in 1986, at the peak of Keith Haring’s tragically short but intensely dynamic life and career, Untitled (Brasil) embraces the artist’s signature graffiti-inspired style. Haring’s playful art typified and celebrated youthful exuberance and fearlessness, yet drew on a wealth of art historical stimuli; as curator and art critic Demetrio Paparoni has observed, “from Picasso he [Haring] took a delight in painting that found expression in the most complete liberty of form; from Léger, the clean black line that shapes his figures, set against the background of Matisse’s flat slabs of colour"(Demetrio Paparoni, The Keith Haring Show, 2005, p. 41). However, whilst his playful characters and use of colour may appear transparent at first glance, Haring’s work dealt with weighty subjects such as death, sex, race and war. In 1983 the artist spent some weeks at his close friends Kenny and Tereza Scharf’s house in Bahia, Brasil where the couple had bought some land close to the beach. Haring was immediately inspired by the lush foliage and bright colours and set to work on decorating their home in his iconic motifs; his dancing figures, jumping dolphins and singing dogs sprawling all over the couple’s house and its surroundings. Haring would spend some time in Brasil every year for a number of years, for periods of up to a month, and those stays would become a source of great inspiration for him. Scharf explains how “he was always scoping out good places to do paintings. And there was things everywhere; he was a huge impact, he’d go in the street going like whoa whoa whoa, you know? In New York he didn’t have that” (Kenny Scharf in: Guto Barra and Gisela Matta, Restless – Keith Haring in Brazil, 2013, 00:41). The present work bears the name of the artist’s beloved refuge and is clearly imbued with the country’s luminosity and vibrancy.

In Untitled (Brasil) the artist combines electric colours with an application of classic Pop imagery, clearly relishing in the bold lines and the expressive face of its cheeky protagonist. The cartoonish figure is reminiscent of children’s TV shows, a source of inspiration for the artist that would make its appearance in Haring’s canvasses and works on paper regularly. In his work Haring would bridge the high with the low, challenging the assumption that comic illustrations, graffiti or TV-inspired doodles could not reach the rarefied heights of more classical forms of contemporary fine art. Haring relied on “a legacy of symbols and archetypes that lurk in the collective unconscious” alongside popular culture, ingeniously blending both together to create a new vocabulary that is highly original and paradigmatic to his visual language (Germano Celant in: ‘Keith Haring: Labyrinths of Life and Death’ in Germano Celant, Ed., Keith Haring, Munich, 1997, p. 9). Untitled (Brasil) is a powerful example of Haring’s ability to distill the very essence of each and every source of inspiration and translate these into his own, singular idiom.