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Details
Keith Haring (1958-1990)
Untitled
signed and dated 'K. Haring Jan 14-84' (on the reverse)
sumi ink on paper
37 1/8 x 49 5/8 in. (94 x 126 cm.)
Executed in 1984
Provenance
with Galerie Thomas, Munich.
Private collection, Germany.
Anonymous sale; Christie's London, 10 February 2005, lot 209.

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Katharine Cooke
Katharine Cooke

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Lot Essay

Keith Haring’s Untitled (1984) displays the artist’s inimitable style in a tableau of vivid humour, graphic creativity and powerful visual impact. A colossal figure ejaculates forth a dancing procession of smaller characters, animated by Haring’s signature kinetic lines; we are made witness to divine creation, man brought forth from the body of a god, or perhaps a dream-like glimpse of the artist himself in an act of immaculate conception. Framed by a border of intense orange, the giant’s head is obscured and he appears to look away from his work, heightening the scene’s sense of mythic mystery.
This fantastical image of fertility echoes a central motif of Haring’s oeuvre: the ‘Radiant Baby,’ through which he sought to express a joyful energy in pure human existence. Birth and death fascinated the artist in their raw, elemental energy, offering a primal allegorical vehicle for his own acts of pictorial creation. The erotic and mythological currents that run through Haring’s prolific body of work are brought forth in a scene of abundance and celebration. Image-making’s transformative potential is realised in feverish, dynamic iconography as prophetic and powerful in tone as ancient Aztec artwork, crashing Hip-Hop, Pop culture and cartoon-strip sensibilities into a potent matrix of styles. As Fred Hoffman writes, ‘Keith Haring was a genius. He possessed the unique capacity to function as a shamanistic medium, allowing his body and mind to channel “the pure connection to the source of art” through him’ (F. Hoffman, ‘The Rebirth of Wonder’ in Keith Haring, exh. cat. Dexia Banque Internationale à Luxembourg, Luxembourg 2007, p.36). Untitled epitomises Haring’s effervescent creativity and positivity, an icon of fundamental truths and artistic freedom at the heart of an explosion of vibrant youth culture in 1980s New York.

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