Keith Haring’s graphic figures and iconographic visual motifs, such as little dancing figures, barking dogs or flying saucers, became well known right around the world. He was at the centre of the legendary New York art scene of the 1980s. His unmistakable, seemingly spontaneous style was a product of the energy of an age shaped by underground club culture, space travel, robotics and video games. Haring collaborated with artists such as Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, as well as with Madonna, Grace Jones, Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren.
Museum Folkwang is presenting an extensive exhibition on the US artist Keith Haring. More than 85 works, including large-format paintings and drawings, posters, photographs and videos will convey a broad cross-section of his oeuvre.
A spokesperson for his generation, in his work Haring responded to some of the urgent issues of his time, such as political dictatorships, racism, homophobia, drug addiction, Aids, capitalism and environmental destruction. His chalk drawings in the New York metro and murals in public spaces bear witness to Haring’s desire to make art accessible to all. The exhibition in Essen celebrates the creative spirit of the 1980s, which broke down the divisions between art and pop culture. It was in this context that Keith Haring invented his universal language, made up of signs that were immediately accessible to audiences everywhere. In doing so, he inscribed himself in the public consciousness – in the midst of a media-saturated world of commerce.
Keith Haring died in 1990 of Aids-related complications, at just 31 years of age. He always spoke openly about his homosexuality and his HIV-positive status, making an important contribution to breaking the taboos around the illness. As an artist, he lent unique expression to universal concepts such as birth, death, love, war and compassion, creating an Oeuvre that remains as relevant today as it was at the time of its production.
In collaboration with the Keith Haring Foundation, Tate Liverpool, and BOZAR/Centre for Fine Arts Brussels