Kenny Scharf, ‘Untitled’, 1982, Phillips
Kenny Scharf, ‘Untitled’, 1982, Phillips

From the Catalogue:
"We got our first color TV in 1965. It was one of the happiest days of my life...I used to just sit and hallucinate in front of the TV." — Kenny Scharf

Untitled, 1982 is a quintessential example of Scharf’s formative works from the early 1980’s when he was solidifying what would become his own unique style. Influenced by such varying movements as Surrealism and Pop Art, Scharf blends playful, yet dark, creatures sourced from pop culture with a fantastical backdrop, creating a large-scale surreal landscape.

In Scharf’s composition a futuristic Elroy Jetson depicted as a sea monster escorts a primitive Wilma Flinstone smiling as a slightly sinister, pre-historic bird, through a lush, Dali-esque landscape of Day-Glo colors. Untitled, 1982 not only embodies the anarchic and expressionistic spirit of many artists working in downtown New York at this time, but it’s also an important relic from the notorious Fun Gallery, which operated in Manhattan’s East Village from 1981-1985, where Scharf, along with other artists including Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, exhibited their work and gained exposure to a mainstream audience for the first time. Untitled, 1982 was included in an exhibition at Fun Gallery the year it was created and was conceived as a backdrop for one of Scharf’s famous, immersive black light rooms. An incredibly special piece of art history, Untitled, 1982 is a brilliant example of Scharf’s unique ability to create fascinating alternate worlds that are at once optimistic and subversive.
Courtesy of Phillips

New York, Fun Gallery, Kenny Scharf, September 9 - 30, 1982

Fun Gallery, New York
Private Collection (acquired from the above in 1982)
Phillips de Pury & Company, New York, December 17, 2010, lot 46
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

About Kenny Scharf

Muralist, painter, sculptor, and installation artist Kenny Scharf is best known for his fantastical, large-scale paintings of anthropomorphic animals and imagined creatures, as in Viva Mare Viva Mar (2011). Though Scharf’s brightly colored imagery is generally playful, he has remarked that darker themes exist beneath the surface of his works, visible upon closer inspection. Scharf was a part of the 1980s East Village Art movement, along with his good friend and fellow street artist Keith Haring. The artist says he has been influenced by all 20th-century art movements, including Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, the latter reflected in his appropriation of cartoon characters from television shows like the Flintstones and Jetsons and his humorous depiction of snack food in Maple Glazed Donut Over Fertile Landscape (2011). Scharf’s oftentimes dense and frenetic compositions also echo a Baroque sensibility.

American, b. 1958, Los Angeles, California