The Keith Haring Foundation has announced a sale of 140 artworks once personally owned by the renown artist. The sale is being organised by Sotheby’s and will take place online on the 16th of February, in memoriam of the 30th anniversary of his death.
Entitled Dear Keith: Works from the Personal Collection of Keith Haring the sale will celebrate Haring as one the most influential artists of the century and benefit his community through his charitable foundation for education, prevention, and care related to AIDS.
Gaining notoriety for his graffiti work during the vibrant underground NYC art scene of the 1970s and 80s and benefitting from the rise of rich street culture, Haring made his mark by delivering poignant social messages through his work. A master of bold lines and form, he played with utilising tribal and playful imagery to elevate mundane spaces as free-form canvases whilst utilising ubiquity to initiate conversations around gender, race and social justice.
Haring often dabbled across with mixed media, exploring semi permanence with chalk outlines on the subway through to marker pens across street bills and advertisements; his most famous illustrations featuring dogs, flying saucers, and hearts.
A true man of the zeitgeist of his time, he first exhibited his work at Club 57 in 1980, alongside several other up-and-coming artists (including now celebrated names such as Baquiatt and Scharf). It was at this infamous basement nightclub that Haring began making contacts and gaining momentum – by 1982. a short two short years later, everyone in the NYC art scene knew who he was.
Haring had become friendly with many fellow artists who were also developing their artwork in New York during the 80s. Jean-Michel Basquiat, a fellow graffiti artist who became famous for both his street art and neo-expressionist paintings, was one of his closest friends, as was Andy Warhol (the pair met in 1982 and later became close confidants). Warhol helped Haring capture the limelight and make the most of his notoriety leading Haring to reportedly refer to him as ‘Andy Mouse’ (a reference to Disney’s Mickey Mouse, the ultimate symbol of mass media) and creating a series of works on that theme.
As an openly gay artist, Haring was a fervent advocate and voice for the queer community. He stood against homophobia and was an activist during the AIDS crisis (a disease that would ultimately take his life in 1990), making a stand through artistic statements on works such as ‘Reagan Slain by Hero Cop‘ and ‘Pope Killed for Freed Hostage.’ Although at the time these statements led him to be considered a controversial figure, today he is revered for his bravery and commitment to the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement.
The Keith Haring Foundation online sale will take place from September 24th until October 1st. Within the 140+ works, there are unseen pieces along with artworks that the artist bought himself or exchanged with fellow artists and friends such as Basquiat and Warhol.
The very intimate nature of this sale makes the collection a great insight into the artist but also incredibly highly anticipated by institutions and private collectors alike. These artworks represent Keith on a much more personal level; an inside look into his soul, his preferences outside of his artistry, and what forming part of his community was like.
The artworks tell his life story, some of them he collected during his childhood while growing up in Pennsylvania, others he received during the late 70s and early 80s as an artist in the streets of Manhattan. However, perhaps the most prized are the ones he received during his peak in the mid and late 80’s.
Each work tells a story from that moment in time and it is estimated that the pieces will each be valued drastically different, with some upholding a value of $50,000 or $70,000, while others are estimated to sell at $100. Expected revenue from the sale is approximately $1 million, proceeds of which will go to the LGBTQ+ Community of NYC, in honour of Keith and his association to the group.
While the sale is nostalgic in that it decouples his private collection, the overall cause would have made Keith proud. The auction upholds Keith’s values, beliefs, and everything that he stood for and is a way for the artistic community to learn more about the great work he did, both as an artist and an activist. It is no doubt that his legacy will live on through this sale and beyond.
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