The Contemporary Arts Center Announces Opening of Keith Haring 1978-1982

Only U.S. Stop for the Groundbreaking Show. On View February 26—September 5, 2011

The public has a right to art. Art is for everybody – Keith Haring

Keith Haring ranks among the most iconic, influential and popular artists in the world. Nearly twenty years after his death, the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC)—along with co-organizer Kunsthalle Wien—presents a groundbreaking exhibition that explores the vibrant and experimental years of his early career. The show traces the development of Haring’s visual vocabulary and includes rarely seen drawings and sketchbooks, videos, flyers, posters, photographs and subway drawings, as well as word collages, texts, and diaries. Keith Haring: 1978-1982 chronicles the artist’s arrival in New York City from his native Pennsylvania and his immersion in New York’s dynamic downtown culture. The exhibition peers into this crucial time when Haring started a diligent and vigorous studio practice, began making public and political art on the city streets and enjoyed an exhilarating social life. This is also the period when he enrolled at the School of Visual Arts and quickly befriended fellow artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kenny Scharf, as well as many of the most innovative musicians, poets, performance artists and graffiti writers of the period. These relationships play a role in the exhibition, as many of the items reveal Haring’s role as a prolific facilitator of group exhibitions and performances, and show his untiring pursuit of new strategies and channels for getting his art to the people. Examining both Haring’s street art and studio practice, as well as his distribution techniques, the show positions Haring on an art historical timeline that later includes Shepard Fairey, Rosson Crow, SWOON and others.

CAC Director and curator of Keith Haring: 1978-1982, Raphaela Platow, explains “Curating this show was exciting because it delves into aspects of Haring’s life and production that have received little attention to date: the development of his own unique style and language and his thoughtful approach and philosophy of what it means to be an artist.” Julia Gruen, executive director of the Keith Haring Foundation and Haring’s former studio manager, adds, “Both the concept and content of this exhibition are incredibly important if one is to understand the origins of Haring’s practice and visual vocabulary. Many of the included works come from our extensive archive and have never before been exhibited. These materials serve to broaden the public’s understanding of a celebrated and influential, but frequently misunderstood, artist”.

Focusing strictly on the early years, the exhibition offers a glimpse into the artist’s manifold maturing process. In doing so, Keith Haring: 1978-1982 offers the public a chance to view Haring and his work in a new light. Many of the pieces reflect his interest in interdisciplinary aesthetic strategies and the pulsating culture of the time.

Keith Haring, born in Reading, Pennsylvania on May 4, 1958, lived and worked in New York, where he died on February 16, 1990 of AIDS related complications.

Curated by Raphaela Platow, Alice & Harris Weston Director and Chief Curator, Contemporary Arts Center.
Co-organized by the Contemporary Arts Center and Kunsthalle Wien.

The Contemporary Arts Center gratefully acknowledges the sponsors who have made this exhibition possible:

James A. and Mary Miller
Allan Berliant and Jennie Rosenthal Berliant; Susan and Bill Friedlander
Public Artworks: The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation
ArtsWave Corporate Partner: P&G

Opening Celebration
Friday, February 25, 2011
Opening Party, free and open to the public, starts at 8pm.
There will be an Artist Talk—featuring French street artist and 2011 TED Prize winner, JR—for CAC Members at 7pm.

JR, the internationally renowned street artist best known for his “Women are Heroes” project, will be at the CAC on Friday, February 25th for the opening party of Keith Haring: 1978-1982 and Jimmy Baker: Remote Viewing. JR will be the featured speaker for the evening’s Artist Talk, an event taking place immediately prior to the public party. During this intimate presentation, JR will tell CAC Members about being the first artist to ever win the prestigious TED Prize and about his work as an international street artist. JR’s talk at the CAC brings into view Haring’s legacy as a precursor to contemporary street art and provides a unique backdrop to viewing Keith Haring: 1978-1982. Admission to the talk is open exclusively to CAC Members, though the party afterward is free and open to the public.

CAC Memberships start at $45 (seniors/students: $25). To join, renew or upgrade: 513.345.8422 / [email protected]

The Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) is located in the Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art / 44 East 6th Street, Cincinnati, Ohio

General information: 513.345.8400

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