Artist KEITH HARING’S work is timeless, but it is rooted in its time. The Reaganite 1980s have parallels with today, and young artists reacted, shaking up the art establishment. A new post-ANDY WARHOL crew that included Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf and JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT suddenly emerged, making work that referenced what was around them: clubbing, rap, street art, television, high and low culture. They grabbed attention, shows and sales.
Many have described the 1980s as the decode of uninhibited vapid excess. Dubbed “the Decade of Greed,” it was defined in large part by the sales of luxury cars and TV series such as Dallas and Dynasty. The silkscreen, UNTITLED, 1988 by Keith Haring appears to be commenting on the decade of opulence by depicting the year 1988 as a “fat cat.”
Fat cat is a political term originally describing a rich political donor or big-money man. In the British printed media, a fat cat is often depicted as a cat-faced, corpulent, man clad in a pin striped suit and holding or smoking a thick cigar, representing a "captain of industry". The New York Times has described fat cats as symbols of "a deeply corrupt campaign finance system riddled with loopholes", with Americans seeing them as recipients of the "perks of power", but able to "buy access, influence policy and even veto appointments."
The man in UNTITLED, 1988 has the classic rounded belly and dons the classic pin stripped suit associated with the fat cat trope. What exactly was Keith Haring trying to say with this piece? We don't exactly know, but Mare169, a graffiti artist who worked with Haring in the 1980s says, “The vernacular of his art was so appealing, with a quality of entertainment. But it was also a tremendous, beautiful response to the activism of the time… the really unusual thing about Keith is that he felt he could be of service.”
UNTITLED, 1988 by Keith Haring is a silkscreen. Untitled, 1988 is hand signed in pencil and is an edition of 19/150. For more information about Keith Haring or Untitled, 1988, please contact the gallery. Call for value