Printed in 1989, King Kong For A Day is a signed Gelatin silver print by Keith Haring. The print depicts Haring himself standing in front of a poster advertising the Empire State Observatory. Haring jokes as he mimics the pose in the poster of a man standing on top of the Empire State Building, like King Kong did in the epic adventure romance film King Kong (1933). In the background, large prints from Haring’s Free South Africa series can be seen.
This photograph captures Haring in New York, the city in which Haring developed his artistic career and rose to fame. Born in Pennsylvania in 1958, Haring moved to New York in 1978 after dropping out of a commercial art school. Haring’s art was strongly influenced by his time at the School of Visual Arts in New York where he learned about semiotics from Joseph Kosuth, as well as the artists, musicians and graffiti artists that he encountered while living in the bustling city. It was in fact the New York subway where Haring really developed his artistic practice, experimenting with simple lines, which have become emblematic of his unique style.
King Kong For A Day differs from other Haring prints as it is a photograph. The image nevertheless captures Haring’s rise to fame. By the mid-80s he was exhibiting his work at international biennials, designed a billboard for Times Square and an advertising campaign for Absolut Vodka. This photograph was taken in 1989, a year before Haring sadly died.