LAMBERTVILLE, N.J. – A singular Keith Haring drawing from the artist’s childhood home will be among the headlining lots of Rago/Wright’s fall Post War & Contemporary Art auction on Wednesday, September 14. Never-before available or offered on the market, this signature Radiant Baby was drawn by Haring directly onto the blue wall of his bedroom in the Harings’ Kutztown, Pennsylvania, home. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
The Victorian house’s current owners, Angela and Scott Garner, purchased the property in 2004 and recall that the seller was considering painting over the five-inch drawing. The Garners, however, cherished this trace of the artist and, after preserving and living with the drawing for nearly two decades, they have now allowed the portion of the wall that includes the drawing – and the light switch directly below it – to be extracted.
“The piece is amazing because it’s on the wall of [Haring’s] bedroom where he grew up,” said Dr. Christine Isabelle Oaklander, an art historian who is assisting the Garners in bringing the work to auction. She added, “It’s really a tag [saying] that this is Keith Haring’s room … There’s literally nothing else like this.”
After graduating from high school (which was located directly across from Haring’s family home) in 1976, the young Haring left the Pennsylvania town and began his meteoric ascent to becoming a beloved legend of both Pop art and progressive social activism. Haring remained close with his family, and would return to visit them; it was most likely during one of these visits that Haring drew this Radiant Baby in blue and gold – a particularly rare color combination for Haring. Haring’s father, Allen Haring, confirmed the authenticity of the drawing, and his signed letter of authenticity will accompany the work upon sale.
Radiant Baby will be offered in a single lot containing other significant works and historic objects recovered by the Garners from Haring’s bedroom: two Haring posters, found in the bedroom closet, which the artist made for the benefit events Long Island Focus on Art in 1988, and City Kids Speak on Liberty, in 1986, as well as a cubbyhole unit built by Allen Haring for the four Haring children, Keith, Kay, Karen and Kristen.
A short video directed by Brandon Wunder/(in)sight Film Series offers additional insight into the drawing’s origins and the Garners’ relationship to the work, featuring interviews with the Garner family supplemented by remarks from art historian Dr. Christine Isabelle Oaklander and Kutztown Historical Society archivist Brendan D. Strasser.
<Click to watch a clip from ‘Radiant Baby: (in)sight Film Series.’>
Rago/Wright Director of Fine Art Meredith Hilferty said, “We’re proud to represent such a unique and intimate piece of the artist’s history, particularly one that very easily could have been lost and forgotten.”
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