This signed screen print from 1990 is a limited edition of 250 from Keith Haring’s Icons series. Using bold, rounded lines to cultivate a sense of energy and movement, Flying Devil depicts a striking red-winged devil with a cross on its chest, set against a bright yellow backdrop. Haring’s trademark graphic symbols, bursting with colour and vigour, work to create an open-ended visual language, seen and understood by thousands of people in New York City amidst the Cold War, the HIV/AIDS crisis and the crack epidemic.
The Icons series prints are rendered in flat, saturated colours as a nod to the rise of commercialism and mass production in Haring’s lifetime. Heavily influenced by Andy Warhol and the wider Pop Art movement of the 1960s, his work bridges the gap between high art and mass consumerism so as to dissolve boundaries between fine art, political activism and popular culture.
Haring’s Flying Devil, alongside others in the series like Angel and Radiant Baby, reworks redemptive imagery to critique the Christian religious fundamentalism and Jesus Movement of the 1970s. Soaring upwards to the heavens from the fires of hell, the devil figure in this print cultivates a sense of the profane to the viewer. Seeking a direct means of expression by using signs in place of words, Haring playfully communicates complex political and anti-religious messages through a positive visual language.