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"Untitled, 1981 (Smiley Face, pink)" is a 23 x 35 - inch signed and dated "K.Haring SEPT.14 81" on verso.
Keith Haring’s images are insight-fully chosen and carefully worked out with a sensitivity toward layers of meaning and sexual connotation. They are not just drawings but ‘signs.’ But these rings of meaning around the individual figures are only part of the Haring process. The work’s full impact results from a mélange of all these elements: context, medium, imagery; and their infiltration into the urban consciousness. Individual frames may appear perfectly innocent, but taken together, Haring’s works have a quality of menace, a sense of impending violence and of sexual exploitation. They diagram the collective unconscious of a city—a city that moves along happily enough, but just barely enough to keep from degenerating into the dog-eat-dog, topsy turvy world of Haring’s images.
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.