The Shirts Off Their Backs
Art Tees by Haring and Warhol in Rago’s May 6 Art Auction
26 April 2017
In early September of 1981, thousands of people gathered on the lawn of Colorado State University for a chance to catch a glimpse of the Pope of Pop, Andy Warhol. The Pop Art Exhibition, made possible by contemporary art collectors John and Kimiko Powers, included interviews, radio and TV appearances, and autograph signings with the art legend.
The exhibition lasted less than a month, attracting tens of thousands of visitors, and while everyone who attended left with a greater understanding and appreciation for Warhol’s works, some left with a little something extra to commemorate the occasion. Lot 671 in our Upcoming Post-War/Contemporary Art Auction features one such ‘something extra’ – a commemorative screen-printed t-shirt sporting Warhol’s iconic Campbell’s Soup Can.
Accompanied by a button and bumper sticker from the same exhibit, this work of “wearable art” is one of several commemorative and limited edition ‘art tees’ on offer in in our May 6 auction. Another, also by Andy Warhol, features a screen-printed portrait of Warhol’s friend and protégé, Keith Haring.
Keith Haring also produced t-shirts that are highly sought-after by contemporary art collectors. Though the shirts were produced for several reasons, many were made to be sold in Haring’s Pop Shop, which opened its doors in NYC in 1986. The shop has since closed, and though there is an online store that continues to sell his merchandise to this day, vintage pieces are highly collectible. Several examples of these vintage pieces will be crossing the Rago auction block in our May 6 Fine Art Auction.
Haring often utilized his art as a form of visual activism. He rendered a powerful drawing promoting human rights on the Berlin Wall, illustrated Anti-Nuclear Rally posters in 1982, designed anti-apartheid posters, and painted the famous “Crack is Wack” mural in New York City. Several of the lots in the upcoming auction are quintessential examples of Haring’s use of visual language to crusade for a cause.