10 Facts About Keith Haring’s Apocalypse

Keith Haring’s Apocalypse 1. A Pop Art screenprint collage featuring two photographs of the Mona Lisa and a red, animated phallus between them.Apocalypse 1 © Keith Haring 1988
Rebecca Marsham

Rebecca Marsham, Sales Director[email protected]

Interested in buying or selling
Keith Haring?

Browse artworks

Created in collaboration with William S. Burroughs in 1988, Keith Haring's Apocalypse examines the complexities of the modern world, employing a unique fusion of visual and textual elements. Incorporating Egyptian hieroglyphic-inspired motifs, the series navigates themes of destruction, societal critique, and the AIDS crisis, reflecting Haring's introspective and activist approach to art. This series encapsulates Haring's mastery over his medium and his ability to communicate powerful messages through art, making it an essential study for understanding his impact on both contemporary art and culture.

1.

Apocalypse is a Collaboration of Genius

Keith Haring’s Apocalypse 8. A Pop Art screenprint collage featuring photography and animated dream-like figures. Apocalypse 8 © Keith Haring 1988

The Apocalypse series is a result of the collaboration between Keith Haring and William S. Burroughs in 1988, merging Haring’s visual artistry with Burroughs’ groundbreaking textual cut-up method. This collaboration bridged two creative minds from different spheres, blending Haring's pictographic art with Burroughs' deconstructive approach to literature, showcasing a unique fusion of visual and textual art that reflects the complexities of the modern world.

2.

Haring’s Hieroglyphic Imagery

Keith Haring’s Apocalypse 3. A Pop Art screenprint collage featuring photography and animated dream-like figures. Apocalypse 3 © Keith Haring 1988

Haring’s Apocalypse is notable for its incorporation of Egyptian hieroglyphic-inspired motifs, which are repeated and appropriated across the prints. This stylistic choice creates a memorable pictorial language that, when paired with Burroughs’ text, narrates disjointed and violent scenarios, inviting viewers to decipher the complex relationship between symbols and meanings within Haring’s idea of Armageddon.

3.

It Revealed Part of Haring’s Psyche

Keith Haring’s Apocalypse 4. A Pop Art screenprint collage featuring animated, surrealist characters. Apocalypse 4 © Keith Haring 1988

A departure from his earlier, more whimsical works, the Apocalypse series reflects Haring’s shift towards darker themes. Created during the final years of his life amidst his battle with AIDS, the series examined themes of destruction, war, and hellish imagery, making a poignant statement on Haring’s internal and external turmoil during this period.

4.

Apocalypse is a Powerful Collage

Keith Haring’s Apocalypse 10. A Pop Art screenprint collage featuring animated, surrealist characters and religious iconography.Apocalypse 10 © Keith Haring 1988

The series employs a striking use of collage, integrating high art, religious icons, and 1950s magazine imagery with Haring’s bold graffiti-style lines and primary colours. This choice not only highlights the contrast between innocence and the macabre but also underscores the surreal and chaotic nature of Haring’s depicted apocalyptic visions.

5.

It Blends Religious and Apocalyptic Imagery

Keith Haring’s Apocalypse 5. A Pop Art screenprint collage featuring a photograph of Jesus Christ surrounded by animated characters. Apocalypse 5 © Keith Haring 1988

Haring’s upbringing and the media’s portrayal of the AIDS crisis as an apocalyptic event heavily influenced the religious and apocalyptic imagery in the Apocalypse series. By reinterpreting Christian iconography within the context of 1980s New York and his personal experiences, Haring crafts a cynical critique of religious manipulation and the societal response to the AIDS epidemic.

6.

There's a Devil Sperm Motif

Keith Haring’s Apocalypse 7. A Pop Art screenprint collage featuring a photograph of the Mona Lisa surrounded by animated characters. Apocalypse 7 © Keith Haring 1988

The recurring motif of devil sperm throughout the series serves as a stark commentary on the dangers of unchecked sexual behaviour, linking the joy of sex with the peril of disease. This imagery, alongside the mushroom cloud symbol, draws a parallel between the AIDS crisis and nuclear destruction, emphasising the catastrophic impact of the epidemic.

7.

It's a Visual Commentary on the AIDS Crisis

Keith Haring’s Apocalypse 1. A Pop Art screenprint collage featuring two photographs of the Mona Lisa and a red, animated phallus between them.Apocalypse 1 © Keith Haring 1988

The Apocalypse series stands as a powerful artistic response to the AIDS crisis, offering a raw and visceral portrayal of the fear, stigma, and devastation associated with the disease during the 1980s. Haring’s personal battle with AIDS informs this work, making it a deeply personal reflection on the intersection of love, death, and disease.

8.

Apocalypse is a Masterclass in Technique

Keith Haring’s Apocalypse 6. A Pop Art screenprint collage featuring a photograph of the Mona Lisa surrounded by animated characters. Apocalypse 6 © Keith Haring 1988

Haring's Apocalypse is a masterclass in the use of screen-printing, a method that allowed him to achieve such vivid colours and sharp contrasts. This choice of medium highlights Haring's background in graffiti art, translating the immediacy and accessibility of street art into fine art. The series' composition, featuring bold, curving lines and blocks of primary colours, showcases Haring's skill in creating dynamic and impactful imagery that is both aesthetically striking and thematically profound.

9.

Where Symbolism Meets Social Commentary

Keith Haring’s Apocalypse 9. A Pop Art screenprint collage featuring a photograph surrounded by animated, surrealist characters. Apocalypse 9 © Keith Haring 1988

Beyond its apocalyptic themes, the series is rich in symbolism, critiquing various aspects of contemporary society. Haring’s integration of technological-age monsters, television sets, and collapsing urban landscapes serves as a commentary on the pervasive anxiety and disillusionment of the Cold War era, consumer culture, and the rapid technological advancements of the time. This layering of symbols offers a multifaceted reading of the series, positioning Haring as a critical observer of his socio-political milieu.

10.

Apocalypse Reimagines Master Paintings

Keith Haring’s Apocalypse 2. A Pop Art screenprint collage featuring two photographs of the Mona Lisa surrounded by animated characters.Apocalypse 2 © Keith Haring 1988

Haring's use of the Mona Lisa in works like Apocalypse 2, Apocalypse 6, and Apocalypse 7 transforms iconic art history figures into his contemporary narratives. By blending this classical imagery with his Pop Art style, Haring creates a dialogue between past and present, challenging traditional art perceptions and highlighting the evolution of visual storytelling.

Buy and sell artworks

Discover live market data against your collection

The only dedicated prints portfolio management system in the world. Add your collection to track value in real time.

Track demand on our trading floor

Track live demand in works from our artist's portfolios and view access to the works you're looking for.

What to
Invest in Now

Data-driven market commentary on what's driving growth, supply & demand in the Prints and Multiples market.