American artist Keith Haring was one of the most celebrated artists of his time, and today everyone knows his incomparable style and repertoire of iconic signs. His works have been exhibited with Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Jenny Holzer and Daniel Buren. Known for character committed against all forms of oppression, his talent was immense, featured everywhere from the Documenta 7 in 1982 to biennials and museums like the Museum of Modern Art and the 104 Art Center. Now, a new exhibition in Paris which is not to be missed is once again celebrating this iconic artist.
An exhibition at the MAM will explore the importance of Haring’s work, with a focus on the deeply “political” nature of his approach throughout his career. With nearly 250 works created on canvas, tarpaulin or in the subway – including fifteen large format works which will be exposed at CENTQUATRE – this exhibition is one of the largest retrospectives ever conducted on this artist.
The messages and political ideas Haring conveyed not only constitute a part of his legacy, but greatly influenced other artists and society at large. His “subway drawings”, made in the underground subway stations, as well as his paintings, drawings and sculptures, all carry messages of social justice, individual freedom and change. A pop art icon, this subversive artist and activist was committed throughout his very short life, motivated by his desire to transform the world. Haring made a number of his works in white chalk on a black paper background in the New York subway, oftentimes in a hurry because he was being chased or arrested by the local police. Coffee mugs, t-shirts, placemats, key chains, watches, shoes and even the characters Haring created are now reproduced to infinity, honoring the artist’s desire for art that would be popular in the streets. In addition to his subway drawings are early works, including countless doodles and drawings from when he was a gifted child.
Deliberately using the streets and public spaces to address the many, he also contributed to the fight against racism, all kinds of injustice and violence, including apartheid in South Africa, the nuclear threat the destruction of the environment, homophobia and the AIDS epidemic. (It is worth noting that before his untimely death Haring created a charitable foundation to benefit the fight against AIDS.) The route of exposure reflects its critical stance.
Yesterday misunderstood, today cheers…