Opening up the red Haring: Photo series documents unframing of rare artwork

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Opening up the red Haring: Photo series documents unframing of rare artwork
Large Keith Haring Acrylic/Gold Paint Marker on Red Plexi, 31.5"h, 39.5"w; 33"h, 41"w frame. Estimate: $550,000 - $750,000. Image courtesy of Palm Beach Modern Auctions.

WEST PALM BEACH, FLA.- Think back to the mid-'80s: you or somebody you know probably had a shirt from the Pop Shop emblazoned with Keith Haring's "radiant baby" across the chest. Haring's instantly recognizable symbols made him an icon of art and social awareness. He was on everything from the subways of New York City to the Berlin Wall and featured in galleries around the world. One such gallery was the Galleria Lucio Amelio in Naples, Italy. Commemorating his 1983 exhibition, Haring produced the Lucio Amelio suite of lithographs. As a personal gift, Haring presented Amelio with three paintings, one of which will be auctioned this weekend.

The cherry red sheet of shining plexi is festooned with essential Haring figures: dog, TV, robot, crucifix, atom bomb, and of course, the radiant baby, in black and gold acrylic and paint marker, "May 11-83-Napoli for Lucio" written on the reverse. The piece is well-traveled, having made its way into several private collections and New York galleries over the thirty-eight years since its creation.

"Bidders are smart, and savvy...they want to really get to know what they're buying from thousands of miles away," says Rico Baca, Palm Beach Modern Auctions' Auctioneer and co-owner. "It's our job to give them that information so they can bid confidently. Beyond the great provenance, the answer was to take it out of the frame."

"There's something exciting about revealing the work in this way, seeing the way his lines and texture reflect in the transparent surface. We took a series of photos at the framer's studio to document the unframing. They're very cool, and we want to share that experience."

Keith Haring's 1983 painting will be up for auction on Saturday, May 2nd at Palm Beach Modern Auctions in West Palm Beach, FL as lot 176.

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