Untitled (Cannibal)

Keith Haring

Untitled (Cannibal) , 1982

Works on paper
38.5 x 50.0 Inches
Sumi ink on paper
Unique artwork
$485,000
Added during invoicing: 10% LiveArt Fee and Shipping Costs from Delaware, USA

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Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York Christie's, New York, Nov 10 2015 (lot 517)
Signed and dated

About the artwork

Untitled (Cannibal), is a closely cropped image of a man with a wide grin and eating three smaller figures. Two of the smaller figures have Haring’s signature curved radiating lines around their hands and feet. This scene was likely influenced by various art historical references. For example, it recalls Hieronymous Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights (1503-1504) as well as the Greek myth of Saturn Devouring His Son. Haring’s ‘cannibal’ is wide-eyed, staring straight ahead, and does not acknowledge the people he is eating. This work evokes possible themes of mindless consumerism and suffering caused by the greed of those in power.

About the artist

Keith Haring

Keith Haring (1958-1990) was an American artist who quickly rose to fame in the early 1980s in New York City and was a key figure of the East Village Art scene, along with contemporaries Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kenny Scharf. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Haring was interested in drawing at an early age. Haring eventually moved to New York in 1978 to study at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) and developed his own pictorial language utilizing the primacy of the line. 


Haring’s unique style that blends street art, graffiti, a Pop sensibility, and cartoon elements is easily recognizable and has become an icon of 20th century visual culture. Best known for the inclusion of motifs like dancing figures, barking dogs, crawling babies, among others, Haring’s work is politically charged, speaking to urgent political and social matters such as the battle to end Apartheid, the AIDS epidemic, and drug abuse. Haring devoted his career to creating public art and used his straightforward imagery as a means to invite the larger public to engage with these important issues. He began displaying his work publicly on the unused advertising panels covered with matte black paper in the New York subway stations with white chalk. While he was given many solo exhibitions and was included in the 1982 Whitney Biennial, Haring preferred his work to be as visible and accessible as possible to the masses. He also opened his own store in 1986, called Pop Shop, located in Soho, selling T-shirts, toys, posters, and magnets bearing his images. The purpose of the store was to grant people greater access to his work, at an affordable price. Between the years 1982-1989, Haring produced more than 50 public artworks worldwide, many of which can still be seen today, such as his Crack is Wack mural located along the FDR Drive in New York. 


In addition to his artistic legacy, Haring is remembered as a dedicated activist and philanthropist. As an openly gay artist, Haring’s work generated awareness and activism about the AIDS epidemic and gay rights. Haring passed away at the young age of 31 due to AIDS related complications, but a year prior to his passing, he set up the Keith Haring Foundation. The foundation provides funding and imagery to AIDS organizations and children’s programs and has supported hundreds of youth, community, art, LBGT, safe sex and planned-parenthood projects. Haring’s work can be found in many distinguished collections, public and private, worldwide, and his foundation has licensed his images to be used for collaborations with contemporary brands, allowing for the widespread circulation of his work to continue. 

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