AV Gallery (from the Archives): The Political Line — Keith Haring in Paris

haring-one

Keith Haring, “Untitled,” April 9, 1985. Personal collection. Acrylic on canvas, 152.4 x 152.4 cm. Copyright Keith Haring Foundation.

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2013, 2017 Paul Ben-Itzak

The monographic Keith Haring exhibition which closes this week-end at the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris singularly rescues the signature New York artist of the 1980s from play-land by deliberately placing and arraying the work — in this case, nearly 250 oeuvres executed on canvas, tarpaulins, and even subway walls — in the context of the political engagements that mattered to Haring, as the kid who arrived from Pennsylvania and Holly Golightly-like sketched penises in front of Tiffany’s (see elsewhere in these DI – Arts Voyager Archives) grew into and framed the increasingly harrowing world around him, addressing threats to the environment, Apartheid, racism, the specter of nuclear war, homophobia, and the AIDS epidemic which would take his own life at the age of 31 in 1990. It’s a needed reminder that the apparently fanciful expression, so often imitated since by a generation of gobbling Chelsea regurgitators, distilled a much more considered response to his times. Signifying Haring’s particular attachment to the City of Light, in April Sotheby’s in Paris, in conjunction with the Keith Haring Foundation, even auctioned off some of his work to help pay for the restoration of a mural Haring painted on a wall of the city’s University Necker – Enfants Malades hospital.

In all, the exhibition reveals the textural density and intellectual and art-historical depth behind the deceptively simple line of Haring’s figures and the pronounced colors of his palette. Herewith a sampling.

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You Belong to Me: Keith Haring Sketches Penises in front of Tiffany’s, and other dreamquests

haring-penises

Keith Haring. Manhattan Penis Drawings for Ken Hicks, 1978. Graphite on paper. 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches (21.6 x 14 cm). ©Keith Haring Foundation. Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York. First published on the Arts Voyager in 2012.

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2016 Paul Ben-Itzak

Today my  DVD deck on my more or less brand new lap-top broke down just after I’d popped in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” for my annual refresher course in pursuing one’s dreams and fleeing one’s disappointments with panache. Every year Blake Edwards’s film of Truman Capote (note to French media: It’s CA-POE-TEE not CA-POHT)’s novel teaches me something new. Two years ago, I finally understood why George Peppard’s insisting, “You belong to me, Holly” is not misogynistic. (If I told you there would be no need for you to view the film.)

To access the rest of the article, including more images, subscribers please e-mail paulbenitzak@gmail.com . Not a subscriber? 1-year subscriptions are just $49, or $25 for students and unemployed artists. Just designate your PayPal payment in that amount to paulbenitzak@gmail.com , or write us at that address for information on how to pay by check or in Euros or British pounds.