As part of Sotheby’s London’s Contemporary Art Auction, David LaChapelle is selling one of his most treasured works by Keith Haring, created just before Haring’s death in 1990, at 31 years old.
The work is especially rare as it was on of only three Haring created on canvas as he knew he was dying. As LaChapelle told artnet News, “Most of the time he was painting on tarps and other things, but these pictures on canvas–these were different, he had a sense of his time running out, and he really wanted to say something with these works. There is an urgency to them.” LaChapelle bought The Last Rainforest – which he believes to be one of Haring’s most complex works – in 2001 from Tony Shafrazi, who represented both artists. “I just fell in love with the painting. I thought it was prophetic,” he said.
“Keith knew he was dying when he made it. He was painting three paintings at the time, including The Last Rainforest. Tony had gotten him 100 canvases, because that’s what Keith had asked for; he wanted 100 paintings, but finished only three,” LaChapelle added.
Sotheby’s wrote of the canvas in the auction catalogue, “It should be viewed as Haring’s artistic last will and testament; a socio-political warning shot to those who would outlive him and a formal summation of his cruelly curtailed career.”
The painting, which has been featured in numerous Haring retrospectives is expected to reach £2-3 million.
UPDATE: The piece sold for £4.2 million to an American collector as part of a 47 lot sale totalling £52.2 million).