Keith Haring’s signed screen print Apocalypse 2, taken from his Apocalypse series (1988), is a limited edition of 90. In this print Haring portrays a vision of war and terror with his harsh gestural lines and bright splashes of colour that represents the atrocities of the AIDS epidemic.
Showing a perplexing scene of dystopian chaos, solid, heavy lines are used by Haring to depict the densely populated scene. Thick strokes, splatters of primary colour and harsh gestural marks produce jolts of violence and dynamism. Haring’s phallocentric universe is shown in a state of war, emphasised by explosions, collisions, army vehicles and menacing humanoids falling from the sky.
Apocalypse 2 directly relates death and danger to sexuality and promiscuity. Phalluses in the image are conceptualised as instruments of war, shooting at humanoids and causing destruction. As an adolescent, Haring witnessed the traumatising events of the Vietnam War on television and undoubtedly this had a lasting effect on his artwork. The dismaying realities of the AIDS epidemic, and Haring’s subsequent diagnosis in 1988, are depicted in this post-apocalyptic scene as acts of total violence and devastation, likened to the wars that Haring witnessed on TV in his youth.
As with Apocalypse 1, Haring uses collage to reproduce and duplicate Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Haring undermines the cerebral nature of fine art through defacement and duplication. In this print the Mona Lisa has been cut up and vandalised by black felt lines. As such, her beauty is wholly perverted. Just as his good friend Jean-Michel Basquiat had done before him, Haring used his unique graffiti style to erode boundaries between the public and the world of high art.