A popular culture icon with a short-lived destiny, Keith Haring made a lasting impression on American art at the end of the 20th century. His colourful, facetious and committed work challenged the conventions of the time. The artist prefigured the practices of the underground movement by using the New York subway as his first artistic medium. His recognizable imagery and energetic lines quickly caught the attention of the general public, who appreciated Haring’s playful universe.
Tragically dying of AIDS at only 31, Keith Haring has left behind a rich legacy that continues to live today. This activist artist, whose work from the Apocalypse series is featured in the exclusive sale La Crème de la Crème, is one of the most highly rated Pop Art artists on the market. Some of his productions are valued in millions of dollars, and his small formats often reach hundreds of thousands of dollars. In 2017, his work Untitled (1982) was sold in an auction for $6,537,500.
Today, SINGULART is pleased to present five reasons why you should definitely invest in Keith Haring. Let’s take a look back at the career of this artistic comet.
1. Keith Haring is an artist who wanted to make his art accessible to all
He started his career covering the walls of the New York subway
Best known for his graffiti-inspired drawings, Haring first used the city as a canvas by making chalk drawings in subway stations. Freshly settled in New York where he studied at the School of Visual Arts in the early 1980s, he transformed the subway with his art under the amused eyes of the citizens and immersed himself fully in the culture life of the city. He wished to spark interest in his art among all socio-economic categories and particularly appreciated the performative aspect of his drawings which allowed him to interact with passersby.
“Art is nothing if you don’t reach every segment of the people.”Keith Haring
Convinced that art belongs to the community, Keith Haring also opened his own pop-up store, where he sold posters and t-shirts featuring his work at affordable prices, making his art accessible to all.
2. Keith Haring is a committed artist
His homosexuality and the discovery of his illness have greatly influenced his work
Openly homosexual at a time when it was still not accepted, Keith Haring attempted to raise awareness of these issues by incorporating multiple symbols that celebrated homosexuality into his work. He also used his accessible and vibrant artistic language to engage in conversation about the sensitive issue of HIV. As a young activist who has himself been infected with the virus since 1988, he became involved with the group Act Up and produced numerous works featuring pink triangles, historically a Nazi indicator of homosexuality transformed into a badge of pride characteristic of the LGBTQ+ movement. One of its posters, using Act Up’s slogan Ignorance = Fear, Silence = Death, highlights the challenges that people with AIDS continually face and denounces the inaction of public authorities on the subject.
After being diagnosed with AIDS, he created Keith Haring Foundation which financially supports various programs to fight the disease and raise awareness among young people. His art served as an educational tool about HIV and Haring continually fought against ignorance of the virus, until his sudden death in 1990 at the age of 31. His artistic and personal commitment have contributed to significantly changing perceptions for future generations.
3. Keith Haring has often collaborated with other famous artists
He was a friend of many great personalities of the 1980s
Fully integrated into the energy of New York in the 1980s, Keith Haring rubbed shoulders with the pop stars of the time at Club 57. He became friends with Madonna and Kenny Scharf, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol. They supported his art and helped him organize his first exhibitions. The friendships made with all these artists enriched Keith Haring’s artistic production and contributed to his recognition as an artist.
4. The works of Keith Haring are now exhibited in the largest museums in the world
Yet, during his lifetime, no major American museum exhibited his art
Towards the end of his career, Keith Haring’s work attracted the attention of many museums around the world, but American museums would not deign to exhibit his work. They considered his productions to be too commercial and far from the artistic standards of their time.
Haring was not afraid to confront the preconceptions of the time to propose a radiant work very different from his contemporaries. However, he suffered particularly from the ignorance of the curators of the time and especially of MoMA, the flagship museum of the city that built him as an artist.
After his death, numerous retrospectives were organized in major American museums, including MoMA, where some of his works are still exhibited. The posthumous recognition of Haring’s work attests to his talent, and the value of his work has been further increased. Today, Haring’s value is on the rise: according to the Sotheby’s Mei Moses Index, the average annual return on investment for a Keith Haring resold at auction between 2003 and 2017 was 13.3%. On SINGULART, you can also acquire an exclusive piece of Haring’s work at our exceptional sale La Crème de la Crème.
5. Keith Haring left behind an incredibly modern artistic legacy
Even today, his figures influence current artistic codes
In his work, Keith Haring used colourful symbols with simple lines outlined in black. The repetition of these characteristic symbols on various supports and formats still makes his work shine to this day. His huge murals, for example, which can be seen all over the world, are a testimony to the energy and optimism that emanates from his work. Today, his vibrant characters are still used in advertising and are endlessly displayed on different products. Haring finally succeeded in making his art accessible.
At SINGULART, discover a masterpiece by Keith Haring made in 1988, after learning that he was HIV positive. The painting is part of a series of 10 lithographs called APOCALYPSE which give a cruel vision of the virus as a precursor of the end of the world and are accompanied by comments written by his friend, writer, and prominent actor of the New York scene at the time William S. Burrough.