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Love in Paradise: Banksy and Keith Haring

Sotheby’s is delighted to support Love in Paradise: Banksy and Keith Haring, an exhibition taking place at Paradise Art Space in Incheon, South Korea.

Featuring an important group of major works that illustrate the breadth of Banksy and Haring’s artistic careers, the exhibition includes the iconic Girl without Balloon that made headlines and history, by self-destructing and partially shredding itself, just as the final hammer signalled the end of an evening of auctions at Sotheby’s London in 2019. This marked the first time a piece of live performance art had been sold at auction.

Hailed as one of the most important street artists of all time, Haring emerged from the subways of New York, while Banksy is recognized as one of the most important street artists of the new millennium. Both artists used their art as a voice to touch upon social activism, shedding light on two sets of social issues across two generations.


Born in 1958 in Pennsylvannia, Keith Haring was best known for striking grafitti-inspired drawings that took him from New York City’s streets, subways and clubs to museums and public spaces around the world. Fascinated by cartoon art from an early age, Haring dropped out of the Ivy School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh to move to New York and enroll in the School of Visual Arts in 1978. There, he discovered a thriving art community that was developing outside the gallery and museum world and included fellow emerging artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, whom he befriended. Haring created a singular graphic style based on the primacy of the line, peopling it with such signature images as dancing figures, “radiant babies,” barking dogs and flying saucers, and infusing it with uncommon energy and optimism.

KEITH HARING, UNTITLED, 1984 © KEITH HARING FOUNDATION
KEITH HARING, UNTITLED, 1984 © KEITH HARING FOUNDATION

After using the city as his canvas – from making countless quick chalk drawings on empty black subway advertising spaces to creating a Crack is Whack mural in Harlem – Haring applied his bold lines and bright colors to freestanding drawings and paintings. Between 1980 and 1989, Haring achieved international recognition, participating in numerous group and solo shows and producing more than 50 public artworks from New York to Paris. By finding a direct means of expressing universal concepts of birth, death, love, sex and war, Haring created a lasting imagery that has been embraced around the world. He died of AIDS-related complications on 16 February 1990. Haring’s works can be found in the collections of many museums including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Albertina, in Vienna, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

KEITH HARING & LA II, UNTITLED, 1983 © KEITH HARING FOUNDATION
KEITH HARING & LA II, UNTITLED, 1983 © KEITH HARING FOUNDATION

Keith Haring seems to have taken the opposite path of most of his contemporaries. Rather than questioning the split between high art and low art by bringing the street into the museum, he preferred to disseminate art history in the street, thus creating a radically new art. Keith Haring was in no case self-taught and had been trained at the New York School of Visual Arts. And it is this which makes him a champion of alternative art. In the urban jungle of New York at the end of the 1970s, infested by police violence, racism, homophobia and drugs, Haring succeeded in breathing new life. Haring’s work thus announces the future renaissance of New York, the birthplace of pop art, hip-hop and soon concept art and all that Haring contributed in creating.

KEITH HARING, UNTITLED, 1985 © KEITH HARING FOUNDATION
KEITH HARING, UNTITLED, 1985 © KEITH HARING FOUNDATION

The anonymous graffiti artist known as Banksy is perhaps the most controversial street artist of today. He is famous for his stenciled graffiti works, which appear in public spaces around the world. His use of stenciling developed from a need to complete a work quickly, namely to avoid being caught vandalizing by police. Banksy often uses multi-layered stencils to employ multiple colors, and he frequently incorporates permanent environmental fixtures, such as street signs and architectural elements, into his work. Marked by dark humor, satire, and political commentary, much of his street art has become viral on the Internet.

BANKSY, GIRL WITHOUT BALLOON, 2018 © BANKSY 2023
BANKSY, GIRL WITHOUT BALLOON, 2018 © BANKSY 2023

Despite his stealth presence, Banksy has become a mainstream phenomenon. In 2010 Banksy directed Exit Through the Gift Shop, a chronicle of the underground world of street art, which was nominated for Best Documentary at the Oscars. In 2015, he opened Dismaland Bemusement Park, a temporary exhibition of an inverted, dystopian Disneyland. Although Banksy has continuously emphasized an aversion to the art world through his output, he also produces traditional works on canvas and prints. His cultural significance, widespread popularity, and, certainly, the mystery of his identity have all contributed to the desirability of his art.

BANKSY, LOVE IS IN THE AIR, 2006 © BANKSY 2023
BANKSY, LOVE IS IN THE AIR, 2006 © BANKSY 2023

Paradise Art Space is located within Paradise City, an integrated hotel resort, casino, concert venue, spa and art space next to Incheon Airport, near Seoul in South Korea. First opened in 2017, this art and design-driven concept has the mission to foster a more lively and international art scene in Korea.

BANKSY, CHOOSE YOUR WEAPOON, 2009 © BANKSY 2023
BANKSY, CHOOSE YOUR WEAPOON, 2009 © BANKSY 2023

POSTED WITH PERMISSION. COPYRIGHT SOTHEBY’S. Click to read original article.

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