This signed lithograph from 1986 is a limited edition of 60 from Keith Haring’s Free South Africa series. Free South Africa 1 shows an image of a large, black figure with a rope around its neck that appears to be morphing into a serpent head that eats the smaller, white figure. Using a simplified visual language of recognisable symbols, this print is an example of how Haring used his playful figurative style to tackle social injustices around the world, notably racism and apartheid in South Africa.
Both figures in the print appear to be in a struggle, with the rope around the larger figure’s neck morphing into a serpent head that eats the small, white figure. The presence of radiating lines and dashes work to bring movement to the image, conveying the rage of the black figure and worry of the white figure who is about to be eaten.
Printing and distributing around 20,000 poster versions of this print in New York City in 1986, Haring worked tirelessly to mobilise support against apartheid. Though there are countless examples of Haring’s screen prints on the market, his lithographs are rarer. Haring produced many large editions throughout his career, but each is characterised by the careful precision and vibrancy of the one that comes before it, demonstrating his mastery of the process.