- medium Screenprint in colors on Museum Board
- edition 66/90
- size 38.00w x 38.00h in
- created 1988
COA: This work comes with a certificate of authenticity from West Chelsea Contemporary.
Published by: George Mulder Fine Arts, New York
Catalogue Raisonné: p. 102, Littmann
Apocalypse 1 is part of Keith Haring’s Apocalypse portfolio, a collaboration with Beat Era poet and novelist author William S. Burroughs. Each of the ten silkscreens in this portfolio is paired with Burrough’s stream-of-consciousness poetry. Haring came across the Beat poets in 1978 while a student at the School of Visual Arts and was inspired by Burrough’s ‘cut-up’ method of breaking down language, which here forms the basis for Haring’s pictographic style.
Marking a shift from his more light-hearted early works, the Apocalypse series is dark and menacing, characterized by scenes of war, destruction, and visions of hell on earth. The erratic gestures of this portfolio give some insight into Haring’s internal struggles after being diagnosed with AIDS that same year.
Apocalypse 1 is filled with personal and political symbology. For example, we see the mushroom cloud as a signifier of death and destruction alluding to the idea of the final apocalypse. Haring directly correlates sexuality with death in his depiction of horned sperm, a demoniacal personification of death in relation to sex, and by extension, the AIDS virus. Embedded in the print are two reproductions of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, defaced by Haring with black X’s over her eyes. The appropriation of this image integrates divergent subjects from contemporary culture and history, thus producing a jarring effect between the self-assured visual perfection of high art and the rawness of Haring’s gestural marks.