1990; Cast Date: 1996



Keith Haring, American, 1958-1990
Born: Reading, PA
Work Locations: New York, NY


Object Info

Object: sculpture
Currently on view
Object ID: 1996.204A-C


White gold patina on bronze


Gift of Yoko Ono

More Info


overall height: 60 in, 152.4000 cm; overall width: 81 in, 205.7400 cm; overall depth: 2 in, 5.0800 cm


Modern and Contemporary Art


Keith Haring , Altar Piece, 1990 (cast 1996). White gold patina on bronze. Edition 2 of 9
Denver Art Museum: Gift of Yoko Ono, 1996.204A-C. © The Foundation of Keith Haring



Extended Info

Using a loop knife instead of a brush and without any preliminary sketches, Haring found a freedom and spontaneity working in clay. Incorporating his stylized hieroglyphic figures, Altar Piece depicts religious imagery addressing the martyrdom of Christ—an unprecedented subject for the artist. Determined to finish it before he died, Haring rapidly cut the design into clay, which was then cast into bronze after his death. A friend recalled that when Haring finished the work he stepped back and said “Man, this is really heavy.” He was completely out of breath and said, “When I’m working I’m fine, but as soon as I stop, it hits me.” Keith Haring died shortly thereafter from AIDS-related illness, making Altar Piece his final work. The work has become a memorial to the artist and reflects Haring’s fundamental belief that art “should be something that liberates the soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further.”

Exhibition History

  • “Light” — Denver Art Museum, 5/19/2019 – 5/1/2020