The late iconic Artist & Activist Keith Haring will have his first major UK retrospective shown in June 2019 at Tate Liverpool. A legend of the New York art scene, the show will include 85 works by the artist including paintings, drawings, photographs and videos, all encapsulating the 1980’s underground that the artist embodied. Best known for his iconic motifs, such as barking dogs, crawling babies and flying saucers, Haring’s work was politically charged and motivated by activism, with Haring’s work as an AIDS activist and educator remaining his most essential legacy. Having evolved from the street scene and club culture of the early 80’s, with his graffiti style being seen at such legendary clubs as Paradise Garage, he later went on to work in the same circles as Jean Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Madonna, Vivienne Westwood & Grace Jones. He was also an active member of the legendary Club 57 in New York, where he gave performances and organised exhibitions.
Writing for ID magazine Ryan White declared “Though much has changed in the world since the 1908’s, and HIV/AIDS no longer as much of a threat in NYC, a lot of the themes Haring’s explored — opioid addiction, racism, police brutality, environmental damage, war — remain as present and urgent as ever. An expansive retrospective, then, couldn’t be more welcome”. In 1988 Haring was diagnosed with AIDS and set up the Keith Haring foundation to support children’s programs and organisations dedicated to raising AIDS awareness. He later died in 1990 aged 31.
The following is an excerpt from the Keith Haring foundation regarding his love of New York nightlife and Music, particularly the Paradise Garage –
“Wherever Keith Haring was working, either on the street or in his studio, music was always playing. Haring’s work embodies the sounds of the New York streets and of streetwise clubs like Paradise Garage. You can almost hear the music that infuses the visual rhythm of his work. Haring was one of the rare artists who was able to visualize sound.
Reminiscing about Keith Haring and the Paradise Garage, Ann Magnuson wrote that “dancing was our pagan rite and the Paradise Garage, the first multi-cultural gay dance club, became Keith’s Pantheon.” In his journals, Haring wrote, “I don’t know if you know how important the Paradise Garage is, at least for me and the tribe of people who have shared many a collective spiritual experience there. The Garage also changed or affected my life incredibly through various ‘re-imprinting’ experiences and transformations.” Haring would even schedule his trips around the Garage, “leaving on Sundays and returning before or on Saturdays.”
The exhibition ‘Keith Haring’ takes place 14th June – 10th November 2019 Tate Liverpool, Albert Dock, Liverpool L3 4BB