The works of Keith Haring
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The works of Keith Haring, while outstanding in their own right, have been made even more valuable by his tragic and untimely death. Due to the short-lived nature of his career and consequently small collection of his paintings, collectors have been known to shell out millions to obtain paintings in his iconic pop art style. These factors have made the recent discovery of an original Keith Haring mural in a New York City community centre all the more exciting. Keith Haring achieved widespread popularity in the 1980s for his unique art style influenced by graffiti, pop art and New York City street culture. As hi art career progressed and as he came to terms with his own AIDS diagnosis, Haring’s work increasingly incorporated themes of political and social importance.
Even decades later, Haring’s works are still considered revolutionary in modern art circles. His images are regularly featured in advertising campaigns and in pop culture. Haring’s work has even been incorporated in post-mortem collaborations with major companies such as Nike and Lacoste. This widespread fame is what makes the recent discovery of the previously lost mural all the more exciting. It is thought that Haring painted the mural in the early eighties over the course of a single evening. It features many of Haring’s most iconic images, including his “barking dog” as well as the famous “radiant baby” figure, which depicts a child crawling through rays of light. In total the stairwell mural takes up space on two floors of the Grace House Catholic youth organisation building. It is thought that Haring volunteered to paint the mural after meeting and befriending members of the organisation at a Soho nightclub.
The building itself belongs to the local Church of Ascension. Many art lovers grew concerned when news emerged that the Church planned to sell or lease the building. As a result, the mural was extracted from the building, a time consuming and cost intensive process that resulted in $900,000 worth of labour. This extraction is unprecedented. While Haring completed many murals around New York City, this is the first of its kind to be removed from its home and sold at auction. The labour turned out to be well worth it as the mural itself was valued more highly, with some speculating that it could sell for up to 5 million. These estimates were not far off. On November 13th, 2019, the Grace House Mural was sold for a staggering 3.9 million at auction.
Many in the art community have questioned the ethics of the sale, arguing that the mural was intended for the children to enjoy rather than for millionaires to purchase at auction. It is a difficult question, especially since it is impossible to discern Haring’s intentions or opinions on the sale. Whatever your opinion on the legitimacy of the sale, it is certain that this outstanding discovery will inspire art lovers for generations to come.