Thursday, February 16, 2023

Why NYC Is a Keith Haring Museum

Several friends shared this sweet 1983 photo of Keith Haring -- who died of complications of AIDS 33 years ago today -- on Valentine's Day, which got me thinking about all the works you can see by the late artist around New York City. Continue BELOW.

Here's what Untapped came up with:

"Crack is Wack" (1986), Harlem

Haring painted this huge mural on the handball court at East 128th Street and Harlem River Drive in 1986 as a response to the city-wide crack-cocaine epidemic of the late ’80s. Though Haring painted it without city permission, it was quickly put under the protection of the Parks Department, which conserved it and restored it in 2007. “Crack is Wack” is one of Haring’s most easily accessible public works. For four years during the reconstruction of the Harlem River Drive, the mural was obscured by a protective shelter. In 2019, the restored murals were revealed.

Plaza 33, Penn Station Pedestrian Plaza

In the summer of 2015, Plaza 33 was installed as a temporary pedestrian passageway next to Penn Station. This Haring sculpture was installed, along with one by Roy Lichtenstein.

“Self Portrait” (1989) at Astor Place

This 1989 sculpture, titled “Self Portrait,” arrived at 51 Astor Place in December 2014. The piece was installed in tandem with a Jeff Koons rabbit in the lobby of the building. Standing atop a short round base, the painted green aluminum figure strikes a dancing pose. This sculpture is one in a series of seven. While this version stands just under 12 feet tall, a 30-foot version of the sculpture can be found in Lincoln Park in Chicago.

Woodhull Medical Center, Brooklyn

Haring created this 700-foot-long mural over the course of a week in 1986. It was a personal gift from Haring to the hospital to show his admiration for the hospital’s dedication to pediatric AIDS research and treatment. 

Haring camped out at the Bed-Stuy hospital in order to work on the project. During breaks in painting, the artist signed autographs and did little drawings on T-shirts and poster boards for anyone who asked. The brightly colored, exuberant figures shepherd patients through the main lobby and down two corridors.

"The Life of Christ" (1990) / Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Morningside Heights

Haring’s triptych altarpiece “The Life of Christ” is the last work he completed in his lifetime, just two weeks before he died. It was his first time working with clay, which he carved with a loop knife. The subject matter is uncharacteristically religious for Haring: Christ on the cross, hands reaching toward heaven, a baby lifted up by a pair of hands, a fallen angel, and the resurrection.

The altarpiece, which was cast in bronze and covered in gold leaf, was dedicated at Haring’s memorial service at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. It is part of an edition of nine, one of which is permanently installed at the Saint-Eustache Church in Paris.

"Two Dancing Figures" (1989)

“Two Dancing Figures” (1989) appears at 17 State Street in downtown Manhattan next to The Battery (aka Battery Park). The yellow and red figures that make up this sculpture are in a similar pose as the figure in “Self Portrait.” 

At the same address, you’ll find Haring’s “Balancing Dog.” Both sculptures are part of the Lever House Art Collection.

"Once Upon a Time" (1988) The LGBT Community Center, Greenwich Village

In 1988, curator Rick Barnett organized a site-specific exhibition to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Fifty artists decorated the walls, doors and other surfaces of the LGBT Community Center in Greenwich Village. Haring was given free reign of the second-floor men’s restroom and told he could create whatever he wanted.

Though Haring rarely titled his work, he called this mural "Once Upon a Time," “reflecting back on the pre-AIDS period,” according to Robert Woodworth, Director of Capital Projects at the Center. The mural can be viewed online in a 3D virtual tour. It is also open to the public for in-person viewing during The Center’s operating hours.

Carmine Street Swimming Pool, West Village

Haring painted this 170-foot-long mural on the wall that connects the Carmine Street Pool to the James J. Walker Park handball court in August 1987. Haring typically created work based on his inspiration of the moment—not prior sketches. For this mural, he incorporated aquatic colors and motifs, like fish, dolphins, and mermaids. The mural at this 1930s pool was restored by the Keith Haring Foundation in 1995.


Via @MikeyGater: Today in LGBTQ+ History: February 16 1990, artist Keith Haring, 31 dies of an AIDS related illness. His final artwork "Unfinished Painting," was purposely left unfinished as a reminder of his life being cut short by AIDS & the inaction of the govt to help treat the disease. 🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍⚧️

1 comment:

tmpr said...

Such beautiful work. So sad to have lost him so young.
Two things: saw the MOMA Retrospective way back when. Such an amazing show.
Second: Once, while living in Rome, my friend took me to visit her new boyfriend. He turned out to be Haring's conservator. He had hundreds of Haring's in his house and his main job was sending them to museums around the world. It was a heart stopping moment. Such beauty.