Bursting into the creative scene of 1980s New York, Pop Art luminary Keith Haring's unmistakable influence on contemporary art and activism has transformed him into an international sensation. Interested in buying or selling a Haring original print and edition? Browse artworks from the artist's portfolio and enquire today. We provide print value advice and market consultancy, with zero obligation to sell.
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Adored New York activist and artist, Keith Haring is one of the most influential names in Contemporary Art. Famed for his colourful and playful pop-graffiti, and for his socially engaged art – particularly in the context of AIDS activism – Haring believed that 'art is life, and life is art'.
Born in Pennsylvania in 1958, Keith Haring found his love of drawing at a young age through popular cartoons like Walt Disney and Dr Seuss, and moved to New York City in 1978 to study at the School of Visual Arts. From 1980, Haring began to create hundreds of drawings in New York’s streets and subways, calling these spaces his 'laboratory'. It was here that he developed some of the key motifs that defined his art, like his Radiant Baby, which he considered as an image of 'the purest and most positive experience of human existence', and his heart icons and dancing figures, which he used throughout his later works.
In 1982, Haring joined the Tony Shafrazi Gallery and decided to dedicate his life to art. He was soon invited to participate in numerous solo and group exhibitions and became known for his street art style. By the mid-80s, Haring was exhibiting in international biennials and even designed a billboard for Times Square, an advertising campaign for Absolut Vodka and a Swatch watch, as well as painting murals all over the world.
Today, Haring is perhaps best recognised for the active role he played within AIDS activism. Seeing the LGBTQ+ community devastated by the epidemic, and himself diagnosed with AIDS in 1988, Haring used his art to raise awareness about the topic through works like his famous Ignorance = Fear. The works he created often featured the pink triangle image, a symbol reclaimed by the LGBTQ+ rights movement after being used during the Holocaust to mark those being targeted for homosexuality.
Another important aspect of Haring’s art has been his Pop Shop prints. These whimsical images were inspired by the artist’s commitment to making art accessible to all audiences. He opened Pop Shops in New York and in Japan and sold a range of t-shirts, badges, magnets and prints, starting at as little as 50 cents. While the project was praised by friends such as Andy Warhol, Pop Shop was snubbed by many leading art world figures who placed more value on original works of art.
Speaking of the importance of his Pop Shops, Haring said, 'My shop is an extension of what I was doing in the subway stations, breaking down the barriers between high and low art.'
Untitled © Keith Haring 1982
On 18 May 2017, Untitled soared past its US$6million high estimate in Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction in New York, setting a new world auction record for the artist. The work presents the ultimate combination of Haring’s best-known motifs – street art aesthetic, cartoon figures, dogs and a overriding political message. Inspired by the conflicts between of governmental authority and youth culture, the work presents the battle of good versus evil and life versus death – subjects that were close to Haring’s heart and inspired him throughout his career.
Silence = Death © Keith Haring 1988
Painted in 1988, the year Haring was diagnosed with AIDS, Silence = Death is now one of the artist’s most iconic works. Here, the pink triangle – a symbol of gay pride – is used to raise awareness of the epidemic tearing apart New York’s queer and artistic community. “I don’t know if I have five months or five years, but I know my days are numbered. This is why my activities and projects are so important now,” Haring said in 1987 about his activism. When the work sold at Christie’s in New York on 15 May 2019, it became the second most expensive work by Haring in auction history.
Untitled presents a showdown between man, nature and technology. A computer is held on top of a pyramid, like a deity on a temple altar – around it a chaotic scene of worshippers, UFOs, robots and monsters crowd the composition.
It seems fitting therefore that this work is the very first tangible work of art to be sold at a major auction house with the option of payment via cryptocurrency. The work sold at Christie’s on the 30th June 2021 for £4,301,250, and aside from the hype surrounding the sale, the work is also one of Haring’s most beloved paintings - epitomising his inimitable illustrative style.
Indeed, when this work was originally unveiled at Paul Maenz’s gallery in Cologne in 1984 – Haring’s first solo exhibition in Germany – Maenz himself was so enchanted that he bought it for his own collection. “To me, Keith’s work is magic,” the gallerist later said.
The Last Rainforest © Keith Haring 1989