Keith Haring, Apocalypse, 1988. 36 from the rare limited edition of 90. Original colour serigraph on paper, hand signed by the artist. Keith Haring, Apocalypse, 1988. 36 from the rare limited edition of 90. Original colour serigraph on paper, hand signed by the artist.

The series was an insight into living with the illness, providing a stream-of-consciousness for the external world into a silent epidemic. The works in the series present a vision of the HIV virus as the harbinger of the end of the world.

In 1980, William S. Burroughs gave a speech at the Planet Earth Conference at the Institute of Ecotechnics in Aix-en-Provence. Titled 'The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,' in the speech, Burroughs called on the religious tradition that states the four horsemen of the apocalypse are Famine, Plague, War, and Death. Due to the nature of this speech, it perhaps was no surprise that in 1988, he wrote the introduction to Haring's Apocalypse exhibition catalogue.

William Burroughs described their apocalyptic version of the end of humanity as: ''Cherry-pickers with satin brushes big as a door inch through Wall Street, leaving a vast souvenir postcard of the Grand Canyon. Water trucks slosh out paint, outlaw painters armed with paint pistols paint everything in reach. Survival Artists, paint cans strapped to their backs, grenades at their belts, paint anything and anybody within range. Skywriters dogfight, collide and explode in paint. Telephone poles dance electric jigs in swirling, crackling wires. Neon explosions and tornados flash through ruined cities, volcanoes spew molten colours as the earth's crust buckles and splinters into jigsaw pieces.'

Burroughs post-apocalyptic visions of the world fitted with Haring's fight against society's acceptance of epidemics such as crack cocaine addiction and AIDS. Burroughs theories saw the world coming to a totalitarian socio-political systems, infecting people with viruses and leaving them behind to deteriorate.

Burroughs and Haring were both prominent members of the East Village art scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Along with Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Kenny Scharf, Jean-Michel Basquiat and other artists, writers and musicians, the pair were all part of an anarchic movement.

Haring passed away aged 31 two years after he and Burroughs had created the Apocalypse series.

The work featured is part of Great Dane Auctions' sale on 27th February, 2017. Check out the full catalogue here.

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