The exuberant work of artist Keith Haring (1958–1990) crosses the boundaries between street and fine art. Haring first began his career as a graffiti artist in the 1980s, making his signature drawings in white chalk throughout the streets and subways of New York City. Employing a cartoonish vocabulary of hearts, flying saucers, babies, and Mickey Mouse heads, Haring’s themes included drug addiction, the fear of nuclear annihilation, and social justice. With its dynamic, bold forms and energetic execution, this body of work soon brought him to the attention of the art world, alongside peers such as Jean-Michel Basquiat.

In Untitled #3, a large-scale drawing made in 1987, Haring employs the simplified outline of multiple interconnected human figures, a motif which recurs throughout his practice. The forms are delineated with sumi, a rich, black ink often used in calligraphy, which creates a stark contrast between figure and ground. It was included in a solo exhibition of Haring’s work at Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles in 1988. In the catalogue, curator Dan Cameron noted the openness of this work to multiple interpretations: “Haring’s new paintings achieve a state of diagrammatic clarity that is peculiarly masked by their lack of specific references. We know we are looking at a codified depiction of our own society, but there is no sense of “us” or “them” to protect us from our own self–incriminations (…) Haring’s best work imposes nothing on the hopeless viewer, preferring to let each one script a scenario or circumstance that best suits his or her situation.”

Untitled #3 emanates the effervescent energy of Haring’s best drawings and is an excellent example of the artist’s late work.

Cameron, Dan. “Keith Haring: The Cult of Awakening.” Keith Haring: 1988. New York: Martin Lawrence Limited Editions, 1988. 13. Print.
Blinder, Martin S. Introduction. Keith Haring: 1988. New York: Martin Lawrence Limited Editions, 1988. 7. Print.