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Free South Africa 3

Free South Africa 3
Signed Print

Keith Haring

Lithograph, 1985
Signed Print Edition of 60
H 97cm x W 76cm

Critical Review

Free South Africa 3 is exemplary of the way in which the artist used his playful figurative style to tackle social injustices around the world, notably racism and apartheid in South Africa. 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.

Plate 3 from the Free South Africa series features two numbered frames depicting two stick figures in a struggle with one another. Using his bold, linear style Haring represents the relationship between the black majority and white minority in South Africa during years of institutionalised racial segregation. The black figure on the left is rendered much larger than the white figure, symbolising the substantial disparity between the black majority and the few white people that had political and social power at the time. Haring clearly conveys this inequality of the white man’s power by showing the white figure with a rope around the black figure’s neck.

As with his other activist works, Haring uses a simplified visual language of recognisable symbols to convey the complex and troubling subject matter. 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 crushed. Haring playfully offers the viewer a glimpse of hope for the future by depicting the black figure crushing the white figure that represents this inequality.