Brooklyn, New York.- “Keith Haring: 1978-1982”, the first large-scale exhibition to explore the early career of one of the best-known of American twentieth-century artists, will be presented at the Brooklyn Museum from March 16th through July 8th. Tracing the development of the artist’s extraordinary visual vocabulary, the exhibition includes 155 works on paper, numerous experimental videos, and over 150 archival objects, including rarely seen sketchbooks, journals, exhibition flyers, posters, subway drawings, and documentary photographs. Organized by the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, by Raphaela Platow, Director and Chief Curator, and the Kunsthalle Wien, Austria, the Brooklyn presentation will be coordinated by Associate Curator of Photography Patrick Amsellem.
The exhibition chronicles the period in Keith Haring’s career from the time he left his home in Pennsylvania and his arrival in New York City to attend the School of Visual Arts, through the years when he started his studio practice and began making public and political art on the city streets. Immersing himself in New York’s downtown culture, he quickly became a fixture on the artistic scene, befriending other artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kenny Scharf, as well as many of the most innovative musicians, poets, performance artists, and writers of the period.
Also explored in the exhibition is how these relationships played a critical role in Haring’s development as a facilitator of group exhibitions and performances and, as a creator of strategies for positioning his work directly in the public eye. Included in Keith Haring: 1978-1982 are a number of very early works that had previously never before been seen in public, twenty-five red gouache works on paper of geometric forms assembled in various combinations to create patterns; seven video pieces, including his very first, Haring Paints Himself into a Corner, in which he paints to the music of the band Devo, and Tribute to Gloria Vanderbilt; and collages created from cut-up fragments of his own writing, history textbooks, and newspapers that closely relate to collage flyers he created with a Xerox machine. In 1978, when he enrolled in the School of Visual Arts, Keith Haring began to develop a personal visual aesthetic inspired by New York City architecture, pre-Columbian and African design, dance music, and the works of artists as diverse as Pierre Alechinsky, Jean Dubuffet, Pablo Picasso, Willem deKooning, and Jackson Pollock. Much influenced by the gestural brushwork and symbolic forms of the abstract expressionists, his earliest work investigated patterns made of geometric forms, which evolved as he made new discoveries through experimentation with shape and line as well as the media. He meticulously documented his aesthetic discoveries in his journals through precise notes and illustrations. In 1980 he introduced the figurative drawings that included much of the iconography he was to use for the rest of his life, such as the standing figure, crawling baby, pyramid, dog, flying saucer, radio, nuclear reactor, bird, and dolphin, enhanced with radiating lines suggestive of movement or flows of energy. The exhibition also explores Haring’s role as a curator in facilitating performances and exhibitions of work by other artists pursuing unconventional locations for shows that often lasted only one night. The flyers he created to advertise these events remain as documentation of his curatorial practice. Also examined is Haring’s activity in public spaces, including the anonymous works that first drew him to the attention of the public, figures drawn in chalk on pieces of black paper used to cover old advertisements on the walls of New York City subway stations. Keith Haring died in 1990 from AIDS-related complications. His goal of creating art for everyone has inspired the contemporary practice of street art and his influence may be seen in the work of such artists as Banksy, Barry McGee, Shepard Fairey, and SWOON, as well as in fashion, product design, and in the numerous remaining public murals that he created around the world.
The Brooklyn Museum is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States. Its roots extend back to 1823 and the founding of the Brooklyn Apprentices’ Library to educate young tradesmen (Walt Whitman would later become one of its librarians). First established in Brooklyn Heights, the Library moved into rooms in the Brooklyn Lyceum building on Washington Street in 1841. Two years later, the Lyceum and the Library combined to form the Brooklyn Institute. The Institute announced plans to establish a permanent gallery of fine arts in 1846. By 1890, Institute leaders had determined to build a grand new structure devoted jointly to the fine arts and the natural sciences. The original design of the new museum building, from 1893, by the architects McKim, Mead & White was meant to house myriad educational and research activities in addition to the growing collections. The ambitious building plan, had it been fully realized, would have produced the largest single museum structure in the world. Although the scope of that envisioned complex of parks, gardens, and buildings changed after the once-independent Brooklyn was absorbed into New York City in 1898, many features of the plan were eventually realized and are reflected in what can be seen today. In the area of land once designated as the Brooklyn Institute Triangle can be found not only the Brooklyn Museum but also such other institutions and facilities as the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Prospect Park Zoo, Mount Prospect Park, and the Central Library of the Brooklyn Public Library system. Just beyond the western edge of the Institute Triangle complex stands the monumental entrance to Prospect Park, marked by the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch (1892) in the center of Grand Army Plaza.
The Brooklyn Museum has been building a collection of Egyptian artifacts since the beginning of the twentieth century. The museum’s collection of American art dates back to its being given Francis Guy’s “Winter Scene in Brooklyn” in 1846. In 1855, the museum officially designated a collection of American Art, with the first work commissioned for the collection being a landscape painting by Asher B. Durand. Items in the American Art collection include portraits, pastels, sculptures, and prints; all items in the collection date to between circa 1720 and circa 1945. Represented in the American Art collection are works by artists such as William Edmondson (Angel, date unknown), John Singer Sargent (Paul Helleu Sketching with His Wife, ca. 1889), Georgia O’Keeffe (Dark Tree Trunks, ca. 1946), and Winslow Homer (Eight Bells, ca. 1887). Among the most famous items in the collection are Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of George Washington and Edward Hicks’ “The Peaceable Kingdom”. The museum also has vast holdings of African, Islamic and Pacific Islands art. The museum’s center for feminist art opened in 2007 and is dedicated to preserving the history of the movement since the late 20th century as well as raising awareness of feminist contributions to art and informing the future of this area of artistic dialogue. Along with an exhibition space, and library, the center features a gallery housing a masterwork by Judy Chicago, a large installation called “The Dinner Party”. Visit the museum’s website at … http://www.brooklynmuseum.org