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Keith Haring

Untitled (Subway Drawing)

  • Year1983
  • MaterialChalk on paper, poster, original subway frame made of glass fiber reinforced plastic
  • Dimensions124.5 x 172.7 cm
  • Year of acquisition2009
  • Inventory numberUAB 784
  • On viewGround floor 0.5

More about the artwork

Keith Haring came to New York in 1978 on a scholarship from the School of Visual Arts. Inspired by the graffiti scattered throughout the city, he developed his own calligraphic drawing style. His main motifs, always drawn in one go and always as a mere outline, are genderless figures, crawling babies—for him the “purest and most positive experience of human life”—and strange animal creatures. Although his figures seem carefree, Haring always addressed existential political and social issues, such as the fight for equal rights, irrespective of origin, skin color, or sexual orientation. During a subway ride, Haring noticed a blank advertising space covered in black paper, the ideal spot for his drawings. Three of the many thousand drawings left as artworks in public space are part of the Brandhorst Collection. One of these three “Subway Drawings” even features the poster originally glued next to it: an advertising billboard for a 3D film fittingly entitled “The Man Who Wasn't There.” It seems unlikely that such drawings would survive, but as Haring has stated: “because they were so fragile, people left them alone and respected them; they didn’t rub them out or try to mess them up. It gave them this other power. It was this chalk-white fragile thing in the middle of all this power and tension and violence that the subway was.”

Further collection artworks

Cy Twombly Untitled, 2003UAB 484
Cy Twombly Untitled, 2003
Jacqueline Humphries 31/13, 2013UAB 882
Jacqueline Humphries 31/13, 2013
Keith Haring Untitled (Self-Portrait), 1985UAB 786
Keith Haring Untitled (Self-Portrait), 1985
Laura OwensOhne Titel, 2015UAB 931/932
Laura Owens Ohne Titel, 2015
Arthur Jafa Monster II, 2017UAB /
Arthur Jafa Monster II, 2017
Alexandra BirckenNew Model Army, 2016UAB 1105
Alexandra Bircken New Model Army, 2016