Keith Haring, ‘Untitled, 1981 (Smiley Face, pink)’, 1981, Martin Lawrence Galleries

“[Keith Haring’s] images are insightfully chosen and carefully worked out with a sensitivity toward layers of meaning and sexual connotation. They are not just drawings but ‘signs.’ But these rings of meaning around the individual figures are only part of the Haring process. The work’s full impact results from a mélange of all these elements: context, medium, imagery; and their infiltration into the urban consciousness. Individual frames may appear perfectly innocent, but taken together, Haring’s works have a quality of menace, a sense of impending violence and of sexual exploitation. They diagram the collective unconscious of a city—a city that moves along happily enough, but just barely enough to keep from degenerating into the dog-eat-dog, topsy turvy world of Haring’s images.” Keith Haring, New York, 2008, pp. 220-221.

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