Sunday, April 15, 2012

Keith Haring At The Brooklyn Museum

Today I checked out the Keith Haring exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. I visited upon the recommendations of some friends and was pleasantly surprised by the show. Honestly, I knew very little of Haring's work before the show. I was familiar with his street art, but hadn't realized it was part of a larger body of work, and that the street art actually came later in his career.

What I found was a much deeper body of work that included not only graffiti, but drawings, paintings, sound, and video art. An added bonus to the images were excepts from Haring's journals that illuminated his thought processes and the evolution of his work. It was quite impressive how across so many media Haring was able to use such a limited vocabulary. From start to finish similar characters were able to convey scenes depicting personal emotion, commentary on the art world, and satire on the commercialism of our society. It was quite eye-opening to me to see there was so much more behind Haring's work than a few pyramids and dogs plastered throughout NYC subway stations.

The above image is the largest image included in the exhibit. I didn't get the measurement of the piece but it had to be at least 30 feet wide by 6 feet tall. It's my favorite piece from the show. I simply cannot imagine creating a piece with such precision. With sumi ink, there is no erasing. All of these lines were created first try!! It is interesting to me not only because its size, but it is also an example of Haring combining the characters of his story-telling with the dense patterning he created in an initially separate body of work. So awe-inspiring!!

While I impressed by the in-depth display of Haring's process and evolving perspective on art and the viewer, I was disappointed by the lack of information on Keith Haring's personal life. It was obvious that Haring was drawing from his life experiences to create his work. Images of religious symbols, anonymous bodies, phalluses, and scenes of violence and sex carried throughout his body of work but no mention of it appeared on the walls of the gallery to explain why. The complete avoidance of the topic is quite appalling.

Despite this, I highly recommend the show. At the end of the exhibit is a little fun opportunity. Create your own graffiti! (Well, sort of.) You can see here Danny Jones and my Haring-inspired work. Go make your own!

Also, it was such a beautiful day today here in NYC, I couldn't help but take some time to sit outside in the sun. Here's a little sketch I did of the Brooklyn Museum and a shot I took on my phone.