The Most Expensive Keith Haring Artwork in Auction
During his tragically short but prolific artistic career, Keith Haring has left a deep mark in the world of contemporary art inspiring generations of future artists. After arriving in New York in 1978, Haring immersed himself in its downtown culture and quickly became a fixture on the artistic scenes. Befriending other prominent artists and innovative cultural figures of the period such as Jean-Michael Basquiat, Kenny Scharf and Andy Warhol, these relationships have played a critical role in Haring’s development as a public artist and facilitator of group exhibitions and performances.
The Magic of Keith Haring Art : From Graffiti to Paintings
Best known for his graffiti-inspired drawings, Haring first used the city as a canvas making chalk drawings in subway stations and later started exhibiting in museums. His signature images included various dancing figures, a radiant baby, a barking dog, a flying saucer, large hearts and figures with television heads. This recognizable imagery was soon transferred to the paper and canvas, and the unique energy and optimism of his art, as well as the recognizable style consisting of bold lines and bright colours, has provided Haring a great affection and admiration within the larger audience. Developing a specific concept of what art should represent and strongly believing that it is not something that should be owned and sold but belongs to the community, Keith Haring opened his Pop Shop with affordable items like posters and T-shirts making his art widely accessible.
Always socially aware, Haring interacted with kids in many workshops in schools and museums all around the globe and often donated the funds from his artworks to various causes. After being diagnosed with AIDS in 1988, he founded the Keith Haring Foundation that contributed greatly to raising AIDS awareness and financially supported various programs for fighting the disease. He died in 1990, doing what he loved until his last day. Haring’s timeless paintings and other works changed how art is perceived for future generations and his rich legacy continues to live today.
For all Keith Haring artworks at auctions, make sure you visit his artworks page, and for his most expensive art, scroll down!
Based on Haring’s own concept for the monograph he intended to publish, this book is the result of a decade of research. With a plethora of photographic and written material including drawings, studio photographs and journal entries, this book provides a valuable insight into the life and work of one of the most important American artists of the 20th century. Following an incredible trajectory of Keith Haring’s artistic career, this book features his rich oeuvre from chalk drawings deep in the New York City subways to murals in Pisa and Berlin; collaborations with William Burroughs and the famous body painting of Grace Jones. Exploring the work of this incredibly prolific artist and his poignant Pop Art paintings referring to social issues from AIDS and illiteracy to apartheid, this visually stunning book is the definitive work on Keith Haring.
Featured images via artreport.com, behindthescenes.nyhistory.org and pedagogie2.ac-reunion.fr, used for illustrative purposes only.
Somewhat a rarity in Keith Haring’s oeuvre, this 1984 Untitled sees two figures bind and penetrate one another, as if interwoven – unlike his other artworks where his characters run, dance, or jump. Some even went to compare this Keith Haring artwork to The Kiss by Rodin or Klimt. The painting is executed with metallic gold paint and black enamel on sheet metal, and it sold at Phillips in London in 2017 for $2,957,236 with buyer’s premium.
Haring’s painting Untitled created in 1982 and showing a trio of spotted dogs jumping through the hollow center of a standing figure with raised arms, is one of his first artworks created on canvas and it was presented at his first solo show at Tony Shafrazi gallery in 1982. Using a silk-screening and mixing it with lacquer thinner, the artist painted this piece on a colored tarpaulin he first discovered prior to the exhibition. This Keith Haring painting was sold at Christie’s New York in 2007 for $2,840,000.
The painting Untitled from 1988 is dazzlingly vibrant and presents an ode to joys of life, such as music and movement. Created in his final years, this painting depicts single figures doing a dance step popularized in the 10980s called ‘spider move’. Using the spectrum of blues, purples, greens, reds and oranges, the hues reflect the potent energy and emotive power. This Keith Haring artwork embodies the dizzying energy and sense of possibility that existed in the cultural scene of New York at the time. The painting was sold at Sotheby’s New York in November 2014 for $3,077,000.
With Haring’s recognizable pictorial language of bold contoured lines and mobile stick figures, Untitled from 1985 resembles a contemporary hieroglyphic cave painting. With a graphic symmetry and kinetic gestural motion, the painting shows a stick figure being pulled in all directions by the point of snapping and marked with red X at the centre of the torso. This figure has reappeared in his social advocacy graphics Free South Africa, a poster against apartheid, and epochal Act Up, an AIDS activism poster. This painting follows the underground subway chalk drawings that have sparked Haring’s public rise to prominence. This painting was sold at Sotheby’s New York in May 2014 for $3,749,000.
Sold for $4,212,500 at Christie’s New York in 2017, Keith Haring’s Untitled from 1983 marks the artist’s mature style, through the undulating curves, diagonals and zigzags in poignant, vibrant colors. One of the largest and most innovative tarp paintings of the year, it depicts a figure in a rhythmic pose, merging aspects of Egyptian hieroglyphs with ‘80s vogue and breakdance style, merging Haring’s many interests and lifelong concerns into a single, breathtaking piece.
Self-Portrait For Tony, 1985
Now, here’s something that truly didn’t happen a lot – Keith Haring painting himself. A unique opportunity for self-reflection, this artwork is, you guess, one dedicated to gallerist Tony Shafrazi, and it represents a celebration of the artist’s foray into the practice of painting on canvas. Calling to mind the close-up portraits of Andy Warhol and the pop style of Roy Lichtenstein, Self-Portrait For Tony uses a simple palette of red and black against a pure white background. It is simplistic, yet utterly complex and revealing. This Keith Haring artwork sold at Sotheby’s New York in 2016 for $4,512,500.
Untitled (Dancing Dogs), 1981
Featuring his most recognizable figures the dancing dog, the radiant baby and the X-branded stick figure, Untitled (Dancing Dogs) from 1981 is a painting defining Keith Haring’s pictorial language. His infamous barking dogs are shown barking at each other and resemble the ancient iconography of Egyptian mythology. Using cascades of fluid pink ink and acrylic that pours down, Haring uses similar forms from his early chalk drawings. This painting of colossal scale is a great example of Haring’s visually stunning and critically laudatory paintings. This painting was sold at Sotheby’s New York in May 2014 for an amazing $4,589,000.
This epic painting entitled Untitled from 1986 was created at the peak of Haring’s career. Portraying a fantastical scene and dominated by a central headless figure in the chaotic background of different mythical creature, this painting is impressive in its scope. Being a dystopian vision presented in a surreal tableau, the painting features half-human beasts devouring each other and snake-like creatures facing the central figure. This nightmarish setting is created in a pared-down palette and graphic iconicity. This Keith Haring artwork was sold at Sotheby’s New York in May 2014 for the record sum of $4,869,000.
A prophetic masterpiece, Untitled synthesizes Haring’s most iconic motifs into a showdown between man, nature and technology. One of the earliest paintings known to depict a computer, it offers a monumental vision of a world on the brink of transformation. Positioned on a gigantic pyramid, the device appears as a new deity on an altar. The pieces blends references to ancient culture and belief systems and futuristic fantasies, but also visual ideas from graffiti, hieroglyphics and cartoons with influences from music, dance, literary theory and linguistics.
The work was sold on April 10th, 2018 at Christie’s London during their Post War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction for $4,352,205.
More data on the work here.
Silence = Death, 1988
An especially moving work in Haring’s oeuvre, Silence = Death uses his instantly recognizable motifs to broach the topic of the AIDS epidemic in the latter part of the 20th century. Depicted on a pink canvas in the shape of an inverted triangle, the work features Haring’s signature figures with fingerless hands covering the areas on their faces where eyes or ears would exist in a manner similar to the three wise monkeys who “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” This piece is one of two triangular canvases that Haring completed in the fall of 1988.
The work was sold on May 15th, 2019 at Christie’s New York during their Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale for $5,609,500.
More data on the work here.
The Last Rainforest, 1989
More detailed, complete and studied than any other Keith Haring artwork, The Last Rainforest is the last great masterpiece by this extraordinary artist. It is an image of a melting pot indeed, one where all of the topics that had previously interested him as an art-maker and a person collide – violence, sexuality, environmental and societal issues, history, fantasy… It also stands as a statement regarding the AIDS crisis and nuclear technology. The painting is also one of three works that were initially gonna be a part of 100 canvases Haring would have painted for Shafrazi, hadn’t he died prematurely. This Keith Haring artwork was owned by photographer David LaChapelle before getting sold for $5,529,670 at Sotheby’s London in 2016.
The 1982 Untitled holds the record for being the most expensive Keith Haring artwork sold in auction, with $6,537,500 courtesy Sotheby’s New York in 2017. A narrator of the modern age, just like his colleagues Basquiat and Warhol, Keith Haring narrows the reality around him down to basic elements and colors, for an extraordinary viewing experience. Here, we see more of Haring’s signature symbols – the radiant baby, the barking dogs, angels and red Xs, all accompanied by his naïve language. The painting was created around the same time Haring organized a rally in New York’s Central Park, addressing humanity’s increasing use of nuclear power, and thus manifests his preoccupation with cultural ‘explosions’. In fact, as though the “baby” as the centerpiece of the artwork, symbolizing youth and life, alarmingly disappears in a smoke of an explosion as death surrounds it…