Keith Haring's 1986 Andy Mouse series, comprising four screen-prints, pays homage to his artistic education, particularly Andy Warhol and Walt Disney. A cartoon Warhol is playfully depicted with Mickey Mouse ears and accessories, swimming in dollar bills and dancing in a club setting.
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Characteristically playful, Keith Haring’s Andy Mouse series from 1986 shows Pop-Art king Andy Warhol in a pair of mickey mouse swimming shorts Warhol’s influence on Haring was undeniable, in Haring’s own words, 'Warhol’s life and work made my work possible. … he was the first real public artist and his art and his life changed our conception of art and life in the 20th century'.
Here Haring pays tribute to Warhol, depicting him wearing Mickey Mouse shorts – itself a tribute to his early education, which began with copying Walt Disney films and Dr Seuss cartoons – with his trademark spiky wig. Representing two of the most important figures of the Pop Art movement, this is one of the most sought after editions in Haring’s oeuvre and a striking example of his mastery of screen printing as a medium.
Printed in seven colours – black, grey, green, blue, yellow, red, pink and orange – in an edition of 30, the Andy Mouse series is significant for its formal qualities as well as its subject. Though Haring had experimented with print techniques such as lithography in the late 1970s it wasn’t until 1983 that he began making screen prints. Adopted from the world of commercial printing, this method offered a way of creating multiple images with vivid colours and little variation between prints. This move was undoubtedly due in part to the medium being popularised by Warhol. It soon became evident that the energy and curiosity Haring demonstrated for painting translated perfectly into printmaking and he began to work with publishers across the US, Switzerland, Japan, Germany, France, Denmark and Holland, producing ever more inventive and daring work. Though many of his prints were made in editions of 100 or more, there is an element of precision in every single one that shows the level of care with which he supervised the process.
Andy Mouse 4 © Keith Haring 1986
After their first meeting at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery in 1984, Keith Haring introduced Andy Warhol to Manhattan’s creative scene, an environment that continued to inspire the founding father of Pop Art throughout his career.
A major influence on the younger artist’s style and subject matter, Warhol holds a prominent position within Haring’s body of work. Apart from the Andy Mouse series, Warhol appears in Haring’s drawings, many of which combine playfulness with a sense of reverence for the figurehead of Pop Art.
Keith Haring And Juan Dubose © Andy Warhol 1983 © Sotheby's
Becoming part of Warhol’s creative world, Haring was able to interact with artists from beyond his own generation. Meeting performers, singers, and artists who surrounded Warhol turned out to be crucial for Haring’s realisation of such ambitious projects lying at the intersection of performance, music, dance, and visual art.
It was through his friendship with Warhol that Haring managed to collaborate with Grace Jones on his famous body painting project. Haring wrote in his diary: "Andy’s life and work made my work possible in the first place. Andy created the precedent for the possibility of my art to exist".
Andy Mouse 2 © Keith Haring 1986
Throughout his 12-year career, Keith Haring produced public murals, subway drawings, and politically engaged posters that cemented his role as a spokesperson for social equality and the importance of collective action.
Through his art and activism, Haring represented a non-conformist stance on topics ranging from racism, homophobia to nuclear annihilation. Vividly thick lines, combined with gaudy colours and cartoon-like, simplistic style of representation are all present in Andy Mouse, exemplifying the distinctive features of Haring’s visual language.
The Shadow (unique) © Andy Warhol 1981