From the Walls of Keith Haring

Liz Catalano
Published on

Sotheby’s Offers Works from the Artist’s Personal Collection in a Benefit Sale

“I love paintings too much, love color too much, love seeing too much, love feeling too much, love art too much, love too much,” Keith Haring said shortly before receiving his fatal AIDS diagnosis in 1988. Though Haring’s career was short, it blazed with the excess that he brought to every aspect of life.

This year is the 30th anniversary of Haring’s death from AIDS complications. To mark his passing, the Keith Haring Foundation has collaborated with Sotheby’s to bring art from his personal collection to auction. This event, which has been in the planning stages for over a year, opened on September 24th for online bidding. 

Sales will benefit The Center, an LGBTQ+ cultural and community hub that has been a New York City landmark since the 1980s. “It feels as if Keith himself rallied his friends to make art for this specific purpose,” Gil Vazquez, the acting director of the Foundation, said in a statement. “The Center embodies so much of what Keith was about: community, empowerment and the support of our future, the youth.” 

Andy Warhol’s Portrait of Keith Haring and Juan Dubose in Haring’s living room, 1989. Image by Nancy Elizabeth Hill, courtesy of Sotheby’s.
Andy Warhol’s Portrait of Keith Haring and Juan Dubose in Haring’s living room, 1989. Image by Nancy Elizabeth Hill, courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Seven works from Haring’s personal collection were advertised before the auction’s start. Among them was Andy Warhol’s portrait of Haring with Juan Dubose, pictured above in the artist’s living room (USD 200,000 – $250,000). Haring and Dubose were on-and-off lovers in the years preceding the latter’s death. This work was completed in 1983 as Warhol was getting to know the younger graffiti artist. Their friendship helped build Haring’s career, then in its nascent stages. 

This is one of many available lots that are new to the market after decades with the Foundation. Some of the works are deeply personal— like the Warhol portrait— while others track Haring’s developing relationships with other artists. Forms in Space, a 1985 Roy Lichtenstein print, is presented with an estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. Haring was reportedly a fan of the Pop artist’s work, and the two shared similar political views. The available screenprint shows a variation on the American flag and is inscribed For Keith at the bottom. 

Roy Lichtenstein, Forms in Space, 1985. Image from Sotheby’s.
Roy Lichtenstein, Forms in Space, 1985. Image from Sotheby’s.

This auction covers the breadth of Haring’s collection, from major works by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Rammellzee to a Gumby quartz wristwatch from 1985. Collectors browsing the catalog will find much of the artist’s tastes and personality in the listings. Included are works that hung on the walls of his Bleecker and West 3rd Street apartment in Greenwich Village, known for its colorful interior and the occasional painted “Radiant Baby.” Years after Haring’s passing, New York magazine reported that the apartment was renovated in his style by a new generation of avant-garde artists.

Haring’s close association with Club 57, a counterculture night club located in the basement of an East Village church, is also visible in this auction. Works from Tseng Kwong Chi, Samantha McEwen, John Sex, Kenny Scharf, and Kermit Oswald are set to come under the hammer. Scharf’s vibrant gouache and ink on paper piece, listed with an estimate of $18,000 to $25,000, decorated the walls of the apartment (“I also have a television painted by Kenny that is incredible,” Haring told Rolling Stone in 1989).

Kenny Scharf, untitled gouache and ink on paper, c. 1985. Image from Sotheby’s.
Kenny Scharf, untitled gouache and ink on paper, c. 1985. Image from Sotheby’s. 

“The collection is remarkably autobiographical, just as any great collector’s estate is a window into their individual perspective. We see the progression of Keith’s life captured in these works,” Harrison Tenzer, Sotheby’s Head of Contemporary Art Online Sales in New York, said in a press release. “Together they illuminate a culturally fertile era in which artists and activists worked closely together to create a world that was more inclusive than the one they were born into.” 

Bidding opened for these works on September 24th, 2020, and will close on October 1st, 2020. Visit Sotheby’s for more information and to place a bid.