Las Vegas street artist Juan Muniz sent out this to honor "the amazing Keith Haring. 25 years ago today we lost a great one. Much respect, sir."
Haring's mix of activism with art was timely, as well as warnings to heed, even 25 years later.
In “The Political Line,” which closes today at San Francisco's de Young, there is a piece about technology suppressing individuality in an Untitled work from 1983. The figure's brain "has been replaced by a computer, also seem oddly prescient of today’s tech-obsessed existence, said his sister, Kristen Haring, to NBC in 2014.
Collection of articles via de Young.
From Thea Quiray Tagle at Hyperallergic:
I didn’t avoid teaching Haring because I didn’t know about him; rather, I think I had a kind of Haring fatigue borne of oversaturation. I was born in New York in 1982, the year that Keith Haring had his first solo show at Tony Shafrazi’s gallery. His work was all over New York in the 1980s and early ’90s; the murals, subway sketches, and mass-produced items (Swatch watches, T-shirts, magnets) were so much a part of the city that it was easy to overlook them as a naturalized piece of the very unnatural urban landscape. Over the years, I forgot what his work stood for, if I ever really understood it then. His doodles as I remember them looked happy, full of life, and just too cheery. As works of protest art, they felt wrong, not nearly angry enough compared to ACT UP’s public die-ins in front of the White House and the FDA.
But to see Haring’s work anew at the de Young reminded me of two things: First, that embracing beauty and joy can be a radical act of queer protest, a claiming of one’s worthiness of surviving at a time when the world was telling you that you deserved to die. Second, that his output was far more troubling than the more ubiquitous images would suggest, especially when framed in their appropriate social justice context, as curators Julian Cox and Dieter Buchhart have done here.
From NYTimes Obit dated 2.17.1990:
From these beginnings emerged a style of illustration that became known throughout the world and a mode of distribution that largely circumvented the traditional art gallery system. Mr. Haring said he was committed to being accessible. Not only were his images widely considered irresistible and the morality tales they told easy to comprehend, but his work, at least in the beginning, was also easy to own.
From Haring Himself: Keith Haring Journals
Above: Stephen Hendee created sculpture for the celebration of 30 years of public art programming in the City of Las Vegas.