Keith Haring

We know we’ve been quiet lately – but we promise it’s because we’re gearing up for a lot of great things to come in 2015! There are going to be new updates and posts next week but due to Christmas tomorrow, we’re going to be quiet the rest of the week. In the meantime, remember what this season is all about and hold your family or friends close to you. To celebrate, we wanted to share this black and white photo of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring embracing.

Basquiat_Haring_Embracesource: The Red List

Keith Haring is everywhere these days. You’re probably heard of the Keith Haring: Political Line exhibit at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco that’s currently open until February. You might have seen him on t-shirts, tote bags or windbreakers through the UNIQLO x MoMA collaboration or in any other number of fashion brand collaborations. If you haven’t heard of one of these exhibits or partnerships, you probably have seen a Keith Haring painting before without knowing it. Bold, graphic lines of figures, creatures and symbols that are intertwined. Before his death from AIDS-related complications, Haring was a bit of darling in our cultural landscape: universally liked by radical queer activists and the Sesame Street crowd. Today I had a chance to visit Pace Print’s small but mighty exhibit of (mostly) black and white limited edition prints.

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When I was in Barcelona over the summer, I was doing a month-long residency at MACBA, one of the most prominent art museums in all of Barcelona. Not only do they have a strong collection of queer theory, but they also have reproduced a Keith Haring mural on the outside ground of the museum in a plaza area usually overrun with younger skateboarders and diners enjoying a sunny afternoon tapas lunch. It seems like an odd place to put a Keith Haring mural. Who sees it, you wonder. But then you realize that as an artist, Haring tried to make conversations on HIV/AIDS more democratic without sacrificing the frenzied urgency of his life about to end.

In this sense, I consider Keith Haring a major influence and a key figure in shaping this new project. We must try to work across difference as queer men in our conversations surrounding HIV/AIDS if we can ever hope to make any inroads in new infection rates, better access to treatment, and to the feelings of stigma and fear that perpetuate a lack of dialogue on sex positive practices. While it’s hard to be a Keith Haring, to have that kind of cross-cultural influence, he’s a reminder than we can do better. More importantly, that we have to, in order for any kind of substantial change to happen.