Keith Haring: Against All Odds, At Akron Art Museum
Keith Haring’s vibrant and energetic art has always grabbed attention. He first developed his signature style of lively linework in the early 1980s while making thousands of chalk drawings in the New York City subway. Working in graffiti not only resulted in exciting images, but also functioned as public performance, and Haring had an unfailing ability to draw a crowd. As his fame expanded so did his work. He was invited to create murals in cities around the world, and he made these projects collaborative by working with local youth. To make his art still more accessible, Haring opened his Pop Shop, selling shirts, posters, and other items to break down barriers between fine art and broad audiences. Now, over thirty years after the artist’s untimely death from AIDS-related complications in 1990, his unique imagery remains immediately recognizable, even for people who may not be familiar with his story.
Across his many ways of working, Haring maintained a consistent approach. In his own words, “there is no difference for me between a drawing I do in the subway and a piece to be sold for thousands of dollars… the intention remains the same.” The artist never pre-planned his work and instead flowed with ceaseless energy from one project to the next, never seeming to stop. Through this speed, he hoped to take in the fullness of human experience and immediately broadcast it back out in a political, poetical, and spiritual message. As Haring wrote, “the artist becomes a vessel to let the world pour through him.”
At the Akron Art Museum, Keith Haring: Against All Odds will provide a sweeping overview of the height of the artist’s career, with over sixty original objects made between 1981 and 1989. The exhibition will highlight his commitments in art and politics, as well as his relationships with artistic peers like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol. My colleagues and I are eagerly looking forward to sharing Keith Haring’s work, his ideas, and his personality with our audiences.
AKRON ART MUSEUM
One South High Street
Akron, Ohio 44308
Keith Haring: Against All Odds, April 15–September 24