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About the Worksigned 'K. Haring May 17 1983' reverse
“Painting is nothing new. People have been drawing since the Stone Age. In every culture people have attempted to depict their world as they see it and feel it. Images have been drawn, scratched, sprayed, carved, baked or painted in whatever materials were available to that culture at that particular time. Man-made images have always been important and necessary elements in this ritual we call “life”. They have adorned our shelters, tools, clothing, monuments, vessels, bodies, temples and the land itself. Different cultures have attributed to them greater or lesser value and designated to them different degrees of meaning and purpose. But they are always there in one form or another. It is part of mankind’s way of affirming and celebrating its existence” (Keith Haring, Keith Haring Journals, 1996, p.81).
Throughout his career Keith Haring worked to provide the public with art that allowed for easy communication. He developed a language of his own made up of synthetic and archetypical signs - signs that are common to all times, places, and cultures. These symbols were simple, genuine hieroglyphs that led him to transgress the idea that painting, to be modern, must necessarily free itself of narration.
In the current art work, Haring depicts in his iconic crisp, clean strokes, a simple pyramid emanating spiritual power lines on a fluorescent orange background. Haring was inspired by Egyptian culture, an appreciation that stemmed from their ability to immortalize themselves and their culture through their hieroglyphic art and signs. Haring himself had always longed for a similar immortality, as he stated repeatedly that he always knew he would die young. By continuing to produce art even in his last days, Haring was pursuing a quest for immortality, “because you’re making these things that you know have a different kind of life. They don’t depend on breathing, so they’ll last longer than any of us will. Which is sort of an interesting idea, that it’s sort of extending your life to some degree.”
About the Artist
Keith Haring was a social activist and artist who wasn’t afraid to depict and publicize controversial topics such as war, sexuality, life, and death with his art. Haring used New York City - the walls, stations, and buildings - as his canvas, creating masterpieces for the public eye. His signature cartoon style combined his outspoken political and social activism place Haring amongst the legends in the art world. Born May 4, 1958, in Reading, Pennsylvania, Haring grew up fascinated by the cartoon art of Walt Disney, Charles Schultz, and even Dr. Seuss. Haring’s father also drew cartoons as a hobby in his free time, inspiring a young Haring to perhaps make his own one day. Eventually, as a grown man, he moved to New York City to enroll at the School of Visual Arts. It is there Haring found his artistic peers and social niche and became acquainted with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kenny Scharf, among other individuals in the underground art scene.