DALLAS — On Tuesday, April 18, Heritage Auctions will stage a Prints & Multiples Signature® Auction featuring a complete set of Pop Shop III lithographs produced by Keith Haring in 1989. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
” … only people who could afford big art prices could have access to the work. The Pop Shop makes it accessible … it is totally in keeping ideologically with what Andy [Warhol] was doing. It was about participation on a big level.”
– Keith Haring
Four years before his death at age 31 from complications due to AIDS, Keith Haring solidified his legacy and his ethos by opening a downtown store in New York City dedicated to selling his editioned works to the public. In 1986, the Pop Shop opened at 292 Lafayette Street in SoHo, and it immediately shifted the art world’s view of how artists’ multiples could redefine collectors’ and fans’ appetites and the market in general. It was a small space (every inch of it covered in Haring’s distinctive linework) with a massive impact. The Pop Shop exemplified Haring’s altruism and grace in a way that defined and defied the era’s post-punk attitude. Haring kicked off his career with simple subway drawings – hyper-local art for all – but when his work hit the galleries and was stolen off subway and city walls, he knew it had gotten too precious for his own taste. Haring was so ahead of his time – in spirit, art and action – that when he opened the Pop Shop, he single-handedly and practically overnight dragged us all into the future.
There’s no question of how and why Haring’s work – witty, muscular, emotive – is still some of the most beloved and recognizable today. In his short life, he was practically the Platonic ideal of the contemporary artist: trailblazing, defiant, inclusive, prolific, and ever in touch with his original audience. On April 18, in its Prints & Multiples Signature® Auction, Heritage will offer a complete set of limited-edition Pop Shop lithographs Haring produced in 1989, titled Pop Shop III. It is the third set of four he created for the shop that year. The work is Haring at his sharpest and most prophetic: The four panels tell a loose and rangy (and comic) tale of humans struggling to control their machine. A giant pair of scissors cuts the cord to a giant, all-important computer. People fret. A person gets sucked up into the machine in an attempt to fix it, while another helps, and panics. Does this sound like 2023? Exceptional artists have exceptional antennae. Thirty-four years ago, Haring predicted our fraught relationship with our digital revolution. He knew where we were headed in more ways than one.
The image that graces the cover of Heritage’s catalog for the April 18 sale is a work by Joan Mitchell. This diptych from the Sunflowers series was the last that Joan Mitchell printed before her death in 1992. “The series is highly representational of Mitchell’s body of work,” said Heritage’s Director of Prints & Multiples, Rebecca Van Norman. “It is energetic, rageful, graceful, and always articulate. Sunflowers I features related images juxtaposed to form a diptych and demonstrates two polarities of Mitchell’s style. The downpouring of angry energy into the crayon strokes becomes the subject, which is darker than one might associate with the bright and vibrant sunflower.”
Another pioneering woman artist featured in this auction who’s had a long and fascinating relationship with printmaking is Vija Celmins. She toils for months or even years on a single print, intricately working and reworking its surface. “She has been drawn to lithography and working with stone because of how labor intensive it is,” says Van Norman. Celmins’ Untitled (Desert) from 1971 is one of the artist’s early works before she took a long break from printmaking.
Van Norman continues: “When Celmins spoke about this work in October 2022 after receiving the Jordan Schnitzer Award for Excellence in Printmaking, she said, ‘I started going out into the desert, and [as a European] this was a great experience for me. You can look so close and so very far. The work projects really far, and when you come up to it you begin to see other aspects of it. The distance invites you in. You begin to identify with the surface.'”
Another rare-to-auction work is within a selection of lithographs and etchings by Joan Miro: Lithographie pour le centenaire de L’Imprimerie Mourlot from 1953 is iconic for the artist, with all of the elements we love and look for in Miro’s work, and abstraction in general. Miro’s signature airborne vessels and spikey creatures float in a skyscape punctuated by the orange globe that anchors the composition.
South African artist William Kentridge’s reputation keeps rising as he reaches his career prime and embarks on a multi-front campus-wide residency at UC Berkeley in 2023. Heritage is offering an unusual and charismatic Kentridge aquatint and drypoint from 2010 titled Scribble Cat; it’s created on six sheets of paper, then assembled to complete the scruffy and smiling feline who reflects the distinctive and robust mark-making we associate with the multi-disciplinary artist.
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