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Untitled
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Untitled
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Untitled

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NY, US
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About the item

Enamel on wood\nIncised with the artist's signature and date Nov. 83 on the reverse\nKeith Harings 1983 Untitled overflows with vibrant energy, enduring as a powerful example of the artists style, and epitomizing the artistic playfulness and cultural criticism for which the Haring is best known. The sculpture takes the form of one of Harings iconic figures, its body caught somewhere between a graceful dance move and a warrior-like stance. Haring utilizes this duality, engaging notions of pleasure as well as violence, to speak to the nuance of contemporary society and our shared human condition. Untitled is painted black and within its body are bold, contrasting crimson lines, which embody Harings archetypal mode in their fluidity and dynamism. Untitled was executed in collaboration with Kermit Oswald, the artists close childhood friend from his hometown in Pennsylvania. Oswald provided the wood, while Haring shaped the base and incised his vision onto its surface to form the present unique, sculptural relief. Harings artistic energy and painterly assuredness, particularly his confident draftsmanship, are translated into carving, evoking the unmistakable sense of vitality and authenticity found in the artists sculptural practice.\nThe composition within Harings figure is filled to the brim with action; anchored by a central circular cavity, the artists iconic symbols and characters populate the surface in a flurry of activity. Organized with a playful symmetry, Harings radiant babies, dancing figures, sphinxes and vibrating, aura-like line work fill every space. More than just a collection of playful imagery, Harings composition relies on a highly considered symbolism that reflects his view of society. The radiant babies crawling toward the center of the figure communicate a sense of youthful innocence, while the center is dominated by a circular void, referencing death and violence. In this way, Untitled is a consummate example of Harings ability to forge meaning from a visually accessible lexicon. In Harings own words: the symbols are self-explanatory and straightforward but the combinations of them the way theyre rearranged and juxtaposed, sometimes contradicts. Its not a straight point A to point B, where everything always means the same thing (Keith Haring in Sylvie Courderc, Keith Harings World, in Keith Haring, Exh. Cat., Bordeaux, CAPC Musée d'art contemporain, 1985, p. 38).\nHaring was both a keen observer of, and a significant participant in, shifts in contemporary street culture, and strove to find new ways to integrate the spirit and vitality of hip-hop into his artistic practice. As the artist explained: 1982 to 1984 was the peak of rap music and breakdancingbreaking and spinning on the floor and doing these athletic, gymnastic dances on the floorI incorporated things that I saw in breakdancing, electric boogie, and deejays into my drawings...A lot of my inspiration was coming out of watching break-dancers, so my drawings started spinning on their heads and twisting and turning all around. The work directly referenced hip-hop culture (Keith Haring in John Gruen et al., Keith Haring, New York, 2008, p. 236). Untitled is borne of this influence, elegantly compressing the vibrancy and movement of breakdancing into a solid stationary form. Not content with making overly literal references, Haring complicated this influence, flattening his form to recall Egyptian hieroglyphs and including sphinxes to draw parallels between ancient cultural achievements and contemporary modes of expression.\nBringing together these disparate influences, Haring implores his viewer to engage in greater observation of the world, to make connections between examples of high and mass culture, and to take action. The vibrancy and sense of joy in Untitled are problematized by the ambiguity of its imagery, reflecting, in Harings view, the role the privilege inherent to an often cloistered and elite art world can have in masking social hardship. In the words of Tony Shafrazi, Harings gallerist at the time the work was executed, to understand and appreciate Keith Haring, it is important to recognize what was central to his driving force: the absolutely fearless and unabashedly shameless desire to run out and embrace the real world, while transgressing and crossing over boundaries and barriers of race and culture, and while experiencing and transporting the simples truths of innocence, love, friendship (Tony Shafrazi, Keith Haring. A Great Artist, A True Friend, in Exh. Cat., The Keith Haring Show, Milan 2005, p. 72). The present work concretizes that artistic ethos, projecting out beyond the bounds of the wall and into the real world.\n"When I paint, it is an experience that, at its best, is transcending reality. When it is working, you completely go to another place, you're tapping into things that are totally universal, of the total consciousness, completely beyond your ego and your own self."\nKeith Haring
US
NY, US
US

medium

Enamel on wood

creator

Haring, Keith

condition

This work is in very good condition overall. Please contact the Contemporary Art Department for the professional report prepared by Wilson Conservation, LLC. In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.

dimensions

35 by 41 1/4 by 2 1/2 in. 88.9 by 104.8 by 6.4 cm.

provenance

Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York Private Collection, Florida (acquired from the above in January 1984) Thence by descent to the present owner

signedDate

Incised with the artist's signature and date Nov. 83 on the reverse

artist_range_end

1990

artist_range_start

1958

creator_nationality_dates

1958 - 1990


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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