Keith Haring, ‘Pyramid, 1989 (#1, Blue)’, 1989, Martin Lawrence Galleries

In 1988, Haring was diagnosed with AIDS and it has been noted by many that it was during this final period before his death in February 1990 that his work was most exuberant and powerful. Haring has said of those final years that he was determined to make the most of the time he had left and in a famous interview with Rolling Stone, said that AIDS had changed his life in that “[t]he hardest thing is just knowing that there's so much more stuff to do. I'm a complete workaholic. I'm so scared that one day I'll wake up and I won't be able to do it.”

Blue Pyramid (#1, Blue) was created during this final period of extreme productivity and features the simplified forms of his iconic figure in yellow against a rich blue background. The work contains many of Haring’s most idiosyncratic and coveted motifs. Radiant babies intermingle with men, women and multi-limbed figures crawling, running, dancing and interacting in an all-over design. The pyramid as a formal element is also characteristic of Haring’s work and appeared in a variety of ways throughout the 1980s. In Untitled, 1981 a figure crawls past a pyramid while a dog observes and in a 1988 tribute to Basquiat, A Pile of Crowns for Jean-Michel Basquiat, the pyramid serves to shape the entire work. Finally, Blue Pyramid (#1, Blue) is – as is nearly always true of Haring’s work – deceptively simple. Seemingly basic outlines and forms coalesce into a vibrant and engaging work that dares the viewer not to look more closely.

Signature: Signed By The Artist

Image rights: Martin Lawrence Galleries

About Keith Haring

Bridging the gap between the art world and the street, Keith Haring rose to prominence in the early 1980s with his graffiti drawings made in the subways and on the sidewalks of New York City. Combining the appeal of cartoons with the raw energy of Art Brut artists like Jean DuBuffet, Haring developed a distinct pop-graffiti aesthetic centered on fluid, bold outlines against a dense, rhythmic overspread of imagery like that of babies, barking dogs, flying saucers, hearts, and Mickey Mouse. In his subway drawings and murals, Haring explored themes of exploitation, subjugation, drug abuse, and rising fears of nuclear holocaust, which became increasingly apocalyptic after his AIDS diagnosis. Alongside Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kenny Scharf, and Jenny Holzer, Haring is regarded as a leading figure in New York East Village Art scene in the 1970s and '80s.

American, 1958-1990, Reading, Pennsylvania, based in New York, New York