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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Radiant Inflatable Baby | Keith Haring | Pop Shop, New York City | 1985

Keith Haring was born May 4, 1958 in Reading, Pennsylvania and was raised in nearby Kutztown.  He graduated from high school in 1976 and subsequently began his studies in commercial art at the Ivy School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Deciding that he did not want to be a commercial graphic artist, he dropped out after two semesters.  In 1978, Haring moved to New York City where he became a subway artist and began his emergence into fame.  Haring’s first New York solo exhibition was held in 1981.  In 1982, he made his SoHo gallery debut at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery.  Haring’s work frequently evoked socio-political themes, including anti-Apartheid, AIDS awareness, and the crack cocaine epidemic.  Birth, death, war, and sex, often involving penetration, also permeated his work.  Keith Haring died on February 16, 1990 of complications related to AIDS.

Keith Haring Radiant Baby

One of Haring’s iconic designs is a crawling baby, often called the radiant baby or radiant child because of bold strokes that make the image appear to shine.  The image first appeared during his work as a subway artist, where he adopted it as his tag.   Haring called it “the purest and most positive experience of human existence.”  The rays do for the child what they do for many of the subjects in religious art, they imply holiness.  Haring said these “lines radiating from the baby indicate spiritual light glowing from within, as though the baby were a holy figure from a religious painting, only the glow is rendered in the visual vocabulary of a cartoon.  In 1985, Haring sold an inflatable version of the radiant baby.

Radiant Inflatable Baby by Keith Haring for Pop Shop NYC with box

Image Source: LiveAuctioneers.

Keith Haring sold this sculptural vinyl inflatable toy (21” by 28”, inflated) contained in screen printed lightweight cardboard box (6” by 5” by 2") at the Pop Shop in New York City.  The Pop Shop were stores that sold memorabilia of artist Keith Haring's designs. Haring originally opened two Pop Shops; one at 292 Lafayette Street in SoHo, New York City which opened in April, 1986 and closed in September, 2005, and one in Tokyo, Japan.  There is currently an online Pop Shop run by the Keith Haring Foundation.

Keith Haring Pop Shop NYC

Keith Haring’s Pop Shop, New York City.  Photo by Charles Dolfi-Michels.

Every area of the Pop Shop was devoted to Haring's work, including a floor-to-ceiling mural.  Haring first opened the Pop Shop in New York in 1986 with the goal of making art accessible to everyone. With the price of Haring’s work moving out of reach of most due to his growing popularity, the Pop Shop allowed anyone to own one of his creations.

The Inflatable Baby generally sells for $300 and up on eBay and in art auctions, with good condition examples commanding a significant premium.  They can be graded by the AFA (Action Figure Authority, toygrader.com).

Radiant Inflatable Baby by Keith Haring for Pop Shop NYC box front

White box

Radiant Inflatable Baby by Keith Haring for Pop Shop NYC box frontRadiant Inflatable Baby by Keith Haring for Pop Shop NYC box front  Radiant Inflatable Baby by Keith Haring for Pop Shop NYC box front Radiant Inflatable Baby by Keith Haring for Pop Shop NYC box side Radiant Inflatable Baby by Keith Haring for Pop Shop NYC box side Radiant Inflatable Baby by Keith Haring for Pop Shop NYC box side aRadiant Inflatable Baby by Keith Haring for Pop Shop NYC box side b

Red box

Radiant Inflatable Baby by Keith Haring for Pop Shop NYC red box front Radiant Inflatable Baby by Keith Haring for Pop Shop NYC red box side 2 Radiant Inflatable Baby by Keith Haring for Pop Shop NYC red box side

References

Keith Haring.  Bio.  Retrieved September 5, 2014 from http://www.haring.com/!/about-haring/bio

Keohane, E. (2005, August 10-16). After a good run, Keith Haring’s Pop Shop goes pop. The Villager. Retrieved from http://thevillager.com/villager_119/afteragoodrun.html

Phillips, N. E. (2009). The pop apocalyptic: Keith Haring’s  and Kenny Scharf’s remaking of contemporary religious art. University of California, Irvine.


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