American artist Keith Haring is best known for his cartoon-like paintings and drawings. His messages included AIDS, drugs and Apartheid. Last year, the city of Amsterdam discovered a gigantic mural of him on the facade of the Stedelijk Museum's warehouse. Haring is by no means a small fish and his diverse oeuvre has more than earned its place in art history.
Keith Haring (1958-1990) was an important name in the New York art world in the 1980s, alongside Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, with whom he often collaborated. Haring wanted to reach as many people as possible with his colourful works, which explains the recurring depiction of barking dogs and dancing figures. In addition to pleasing people with his special style, his drawings, paintings and collages also had a political message.
For thirty years, Keith Haring's mural was hidden behind aluminium plates against a wall of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. The work shows an anonymous person, typical for his style, riding on the back of a fantasy animal. The animal – partly a dog, partly a sea creature – captures the often poignant and politically charged nature of his drawings. Haring drew the striking piece of art on the occasion of his solo exhibition in 1986. A few years after the exhibition, it was hidden behind the aluminium plates and then reappeared thirty years later.
In our Imagicasa Art edition, on the occasion of an exhibition by Keith Haring, we spoke to Leen Daems of BOZAR about the relevance of his work today. "The subjects that Haring raised in his work are of lasting importance. Although the dialogue on certain themes has shifted since the 1980s, they are still just as important, especially in today's time of increased political and social unrest. Haring was aware of the power of images and combined it with the communicative power of pop culture and media to get his message across the world. He also understood the contribution he could make to the ongoing debates and wanted this to be continuous and 'alive' even after his death.
Haring once said: "An artist is a spokesperson for a society at any moment in history. His language is determined by his perception of the world in which we all live."