What To Collect Now - Prints & Editions Report


Cigarette producer Lucky Strike commissioned the following prints by Keith Haring in 1987. Nine of the ink drawings are undeniably playful, but Haring also created a controversial, tenth design: a skeleton smoking. Though it was rejected from the campaign, he evidently couldn’t resist staying true to his nature as an activist.

Keith Haring Lucky Strike for sale

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Meaning & Analysis

Lucky Strike is a series of nine ink drawings created by Keith Haring as part of commission received from the top-selling cigarette company. Asked to create designs that could be used for advertising purposes, Haring provided the brand with a portfolio of playful works featuring his signature use of bold lines and simplified human figures alongside the logo of Lucky Strike. Upon completion, three of the drawings were released as posters and five others were screen printed on art stock paper by Serigraphie Uldry Bern of Switzerland. An additional, tenth drawing created by Haring towards the end of the project depicted a skeleton smoking a cigarette and was deemed by the company as too controversial.

All screen prints included in the series were signed in plate by the artist. Similarly to works included in Absolut, Haring’s first series created for brand advertising purposes, the recognizable cartoon-like imagery is accompanied here by a vibrant colour palette. Employing garish colours and graffiti-like, thick contours, the series evokes the creative energies of the 1980s street culture that inspired Haring across his career. As such, it also reminds one that although his artistic identity originates in street art, Haring left a lasting imprint on the world of commercial art.

10 Facts About Keith Haring's Lucky Strike

hows three jumping and dancing figures that surround the box of Lucky Strike cigarettes in dynamic composition. The composition is mostly in black and white, with only the Lucky Strike logo in colour.

Lucky Strike © Keith Haring 1987

1. The cigarette company Lucky Strike commissioned the series of prints from Keith Haring in 1987

Haring was commissioned by Lucky Strike to create designs suitable for marketing and advertising purposes. Haring presented the brand with a collection of signature whimsical creations that showcased his iconic bold lines and minimalist human depictions, integrated with the Lucky Strike logo. Once finalised, three illustrations were launched as posters, while five others were released as screen prints.

The print depicts the Lucky Strike packaging with cigarettes protruding from the box in swirling shapes. A hand rendered in orange touches the box on the edges, holding it from the bottom. The drawing is sketched in bold black lines.

Lucky Strike (blue, white) © Keith Haring 1987

2. Haring created ten sketches for the brand, but not all were approved

Nine of the ink sketches are unmistakably and characteristically light-hearted, yet Haring also created a more contentious tenth illustration: a skeleton smoking a cigarette. Although it was not accepted for the campaign for obvious reasons, Haring clearly couldn't refrain from honouring his activist ethos.

An image of a print showing a bright orange figure, upside down and in the air, Haring creates an image full of energy and excitement. The packet of Lucky Strike cigarettes remains closed, sitting at the bottom of the image as the central figure dances on top.

Lucky Strike (blue) © Keith Haring 1987

3. The works were commissioned by Lucky Strike Switzerland and facilitated by the art consultant Pierre Keller

Pierre Keller had arranged for Haring to create posters for the 1983 Montreux Jazz Festival, and also knew Andy Warhol. The Jazz Festival is an esteemed annual music event in Switzerland, and Haring's design featured his signature dancing figures, twisting and set against vibrant colours, encapsulating the feel of music. The posters clearly made a memorable impression, as Lucky Strike asked Keller to commission Haring to create something for them years later.

An image of the print Absolut Haring, which shows the Absolut Vodka bottle rendered in Haring’s trademark bold lines, surrounded by a crowd of genderless figures. Haring uses bold red outlines against a bright yellow backdrop that sets a contrast against the blue Absolut logo.

Absolut Haring © Keith Haring 1986