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Growing

Keith Haring’s 1988 Growing series consists of five designs and an additional first state print. Haring uses his signature 'energy lines' to depict groups of figures merging their energies, reflecting his faith in collective action. Five years after his first silkscreens, these prints showed off his natural talent for the medium.

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Meaning & Analysis

Across the five prints in the Growing series, Haring depicts conjoined or stacked figures that evoke a striking sense of solidarity and community. The vibrant colours and strong lines seen throughout are typical of Haring’s oeuvre along with the characteristic ‘energy lines’ emitted by the figures that evoke the power of people working together.

Formally the works are defined by their use of primary colours combined with black, a bold combination Haring used over and over again to striking effect. This adoption of the bright block colours of advertising and packaging can be traced back to Haring’s early training as a commercial artist as well as Andy Warhol’s influence on the artist.

Made five years after Haring first began experimenting with silk screens, these prints show his natural talent for the medium. Though he had made lithographs earlier in his career it wasn’t until 1983 that he began making screen prints. Adopted from the world of commercial printing, silk screens 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, one of Haring’s most important influences. 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.

By the time of his death, Haring had produced so many prints that the exact number has become impossible to count. There are many unsigned editions on the market, though these tend only to be considered valuable if approved by the Keith Haring Foundation. Today his prints are frequently among the most sought after multiples on the market.

10 Facts About Keith Haring's Growing

Growing 1 by Keith Haring

Growing 1 © Keith Haring 1988

1. The series features Haring's iconic 'People Ladder'.

Themes of unity, demoncracy, and optimism underscore Haring's oeuvre. In the first print in the series, Haring reimagined one of his so-called 'People Ladders', a tower of dancing figures reaching towards the top of the composition. This is a hopeful motif Haring explored on a much larger scale two years previously, with his monumental mural on the Berlin Wall.

Growing 5 by Keith Haring

Growing 5 © Keith Haring 1988

2. The title of the series alludes to Haring's hopes for a world without division.

Within all of the prints in his Growing series, Haring represented his typical outlined figures morphing into one another. The interconnectedness of these figures alludes to unity, and removes any distinctions between sex, gender, race, or class.

Growing 3 by Keith Haring

Growing 3 © Keith Haring 1988

3. The series is testament to Haring's democratic approach to art.

From his early graffiti and Subway Drawings, Haring always strove towards making art that was as accessible as possible. Projects like his Pop Shop were designed to bring art to a wider audience, while the subject of his work was always designed with universal legibility in mind. In the case of his Growing series, Haring's intertwined figures literally grow together, attesting to his rejection of capitalist individuality.

Growing 1 (First State) by Keith Haring

Growing 1 (First State) © Keith Haring 1988