This screen print from 1987 is by Keith Haring, one of the most influential and adored artists of the 20th century. Very Special Christmas depicts an androgynous figure cradling a baby. The central figure has lines emanating from its head, like a radiant sun. The print is rendered with yellow lines against a red backdrop. Above the two figures, at the top of the composition, ‘A Very Special Christmas’ is written in yellow bubble writing. This font is characteristic of Haring’s style.
Very Special Christmas is a special print as the design was originally used as the cover artwork for the compilation album, ‘A Very Special Christmas’, which was produced to raise money for the Special Olympics, the world’s largest sports organisation for children and adults with learning and physical disabilities. The album was a tremendous success and raised millions of dollars for the Olympics. This print reflects Haring’s keen engagement with social issues. He was a great philanthropist and established the Keith Haring Foundation the year before his death in 1989 to provide grants to children in need and those affected by HIV/AIDS.
The thick and bold lines in this print are emblematic of Haring’s visual style. Haring developed this visual language after moving to New York in 1978. He practised drawing using chalk on unused advertising spaces in subway stations and it was through these works that he perfected his trademark linear style. The androgynous figure and baby captured in this print are also an important feature of Haring’s visual language. Haring developed various figures that appear throughout his works, which he calls ‘icons.’ As well as the androgynous figure and baby depicted in this print, Haring is known for winged people, barking dogs and flying saucers. Haring’s Icons series features some of his most recognisable motifs, which can also be seen in the Pop Shop series.