Contemporary Art from the Collection

Untitled

Keith Haring. Untitled. 1982

Ink on two sheets of paper, Sheet: 72 x 671 1/2" (182.9 x 1705.6cm)
Part (panel a): 72 x 360 3/4" (182.9 x 916.3 cm)
Part (panel b): 72 x 310 1/4" (182.9 x 788 cm). Gift of the Estate of Keith Haring, Inc. © 2018 The Keith Haring Foundation

Director, Glenn Lowry: Keith Haring made this enormous drawing at age 24, having gained notice as a street artist but yet to make his breakthrough into the art world. Julia Gruen was Haring's friend and studio manager, and now serves as Executive Director of the Keith Haring Foundation.

Julia Gruen: As you walk along the drawing, which is what one must do, you will see that, while it is so extraordinarily dense with imagery, it has a certain narrative. Some of the images are messages that speak to power, conflict, exploitation, subjugation, fears of nuclear holocaust. An image of a television with a nuclear explosion on it. Crucifixes, headless figures, serpents. The crucifix was in response to the first visit of Pope John Paul II to Poland. You get flying saucers. You get dancing dogs. Flying saucers are a of symbol of the future and future energy. The Mickey Mouse images are somewhat symbolic of the United States.

I would call this composition a very apocalyptic vision which is a theme that reoccurs in Keith's work throughout his career. Keith knew very well that it was in combining these images that quite extraordinary stories and messages could be conveyed.

Glenn Lowry: Haring began each work with the complete image in mind. In this case he worked nonstop, finishing the drawing in less than eight hours.

Julia Gruen: When he put the brush to the paper, it simply flowed down his body, out the brush in this extraordinary continuous movement.

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