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This work is accompanied by a letter from Jenny Holzer confirming the provenance of this artwork
From the Catalogue:
Instantly recognizable for its black outlined figures in a frenzied composition, Untitled from 1984 exemplifies Keith Haring’s iconic graffiti style art of the 1980s. Originally gifted to fellow contemporary artist Jenny Holzer while collaborating on her project, Sign on a Truck, 1984, the present lot depicts the same vibrancy of this celebrated project, a compilation of interviews with New Yorkers projected on a large color television, in the lead up to the 1984 presidential election. Haring admired Holzer’s Sign on a Truck, and thereafter gifted her the present lot, unique for his signature iconography reproduced on fluorescent green paper.
In typical pop fashion, Haring continually bridged the gap between high art and the vibrant public culture surrounding him, transgressing traditional barriers and bringing his art directly from the streets of New York to the studio. Untitled features one of Haring’s most recognizable forms—the tower of dancing figures—which he revisited again and again throughout his prolific, yet tragically short career. Inspired by the reduction of form found in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and pre-historic cave paintings, Haring harkens back to these traditional art forms and fuses them with the graffiti imagery that surrounded him in 1980s New York, each contributing to the artist’s signature style as realized in pictorial form. In the present lot, Haring’s five simplistic figures, which evoke a cartoonish innocence reminiscent of children’s drawings, are stacked atop one another and situated against the vibrant green background. The dynamic composition is imbued with a kinetic energy evident in both the reverberating lines that emanate off of the dancing figures, and also distinctly emphasized by the fluorescent green paper that the artist has chosen for Holzer. Such makes the present lot a unique and personal example of the artist’s aesthetic, derived wholly from both the ancient and the present, one to which he remained committed to for the remainder of his career.
—Courtesy of Phillips
Signature: signed and dated "K. Haring 84 ⊕" lower left
Jenny Holzer (gifted by the artist)
Private Collection (acquired from the above)
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
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