“It has become increasingly clear to me that art is not an elitist activity reserved for the appreciation of a few. Art is for everyone, and that is the end towards which I will work.”
With this affirmation of his art and of his intent, the American, Keith Haring, defined as an artist and writer, and, if one thinks of his Radiant Babies and Barking Dogs, definable as one of the most representative, recognisable and accessible exponents to be found, initially around the streets of New York and then all over the world. Always present in him was his commercial sense, even to the detriment of an initial coherency, which led to huge success with his t-shirts, buttons, mugs and other items, and also thanks to the opening of his Pop Shop in Manhattan, and then in Tokyo, where products deriving from his art are sold.
What is certain is that even if Keith Haring might appear to be so, he was not a frivolous artist, but, rather, through his art, with its apparent lightness, he carried forward social and political aims of great importance, combining them with the fact that art should be for the common good, belonging to everyone, for everyone.
Haring’s potential was enormous, the precursor of messages sent on the web, and he used the subway walls for his drawings, characterised by white chalk on black backgrounds, every one of which posed the risk of his immediate arrest.
“It was a continuous line, an extremely strong line graphically, and it was subject to a time limit. I had to work as fast as I could. And nothing could be corrected. So mistakes could not even be allowed, as it were. I had to be careful not to get caught.”
The exhibition will create a narrative that explores Haring’s responses to nuclear disarmament, racial inequality, the excesses of capitalism, environmental degradation, and other issues of deep personal concern., like the theme of AIDS, the illness that caused his death at only 31 years of age.
For this reason he established the Keith Haring foundation in 1989 and spent the last years of his life talking about his own illness to increase awareness and activism about the subject..
And by the time of his death he had achieved international fame. His influence on his own generation and on those that followed, is a testament, together with, and precisely because of, his works of art, which have long been a part of the visual culture of San Francisco.