This signed screen print from 1986 is a limited edition of 30 from Keith Haring’s Bad Boys series. Showing an image densely filled with figures taking part in sexually explicit activities, Bad Boys 1 is a striking example of the Pop artist’s ability to create complex images while maintaining the simplicity of line he is known for.
Bad Boys 1 shows three figures depicted in an abstract visual language of frenzied black lines. Reminiscent of the bold lines of Pre-Columbian art – especially those of Nazca lines – and aboriginal art, this work is representative of Haring’s debt to non-western artistic traditions. Haring conveys a unique sense of energy and optimism in this print through his use of freehand drawing methods that fill the interior of the figures’ bodies.
Haring’s Bad Boys series reflects the artist’s advocacy for LGBT+ rights against the backdrop of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s. In the later stage of his artistic career, themes around sex and HIV/AIDS dominated his work, just as it dominated Haring’s personal life after his own AIDS diagnosis in 1988. Using sexually explicit subject matter and unambiguous phallic forms throughout the series as a whole, Bad Boys 1 makes clear Haring’s celebration of his sexuality.