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Public Pop Art Pioneer Keith Haring celebrated in Tate Liverpool blockbuster

The first major UK exhibition of work by pioneering American artist Keith Haring has gone on show at Tate Liverpool.

More than 85 works by the Pennsylvania-born artist – including large-scale drawings, murals, paintings and sculptures - are on display in this year's summer blockbuster exhibition at the Royal Albert Dock venue.

Many of them have been loaned from the Keith Haring Foundation which was set up by the artist in 1989 after he discovered he had contracted HIV.

He died of AIDs-related complications a year later at the age of 31.

Haring moved to New York as a young man where he enrolled in the School of Visual Arts and became part of the East Village's thriving alternative arts community of 1980s, dedicating himself to a career creating public art - often in front of crowds of people.

He was inspired by graffiti, Pop Art and underground club culture and his instantly recognizable motifs include barking dogs, crawling babies, TVs, computers, robots, a three-eyed face and flying saucers.

Haring was friends with Yoko Ono and one recurring image, of a dog jumping through a hole in the middle of a person's stomach, came to him in a dream on the night John Lennon was murdered.

His work included hundreds of pieces drawn on blank black advertising panels on the New York subway, and three examples are in the Tate Show.

He worked and became friends with like-minded artists such as Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and with fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, Malcolm Maclaren and Grace Jones, and his art often reflected his activism, responding to issues including racism, homophobia, drug addiction, AIDS awareness and the environment.

He drew and painted works on canvas, paper, vinyl tarpaulin, wood, rubber, leather, metal and even a taxi hood (below).

Haring also created designs for theatre and club sets, Swatch and Absolut vodka, and in 1986 - concerned that members of the public were being priced out of being able to afford his work - he opened his own Pop Shop in New York's Soho.

Between 1982 and 1989 he also created more than 50 public artworks for hospitals, orphanages and charities.


Untitled 1981. Marker on taxi hood. Collection Larry Warsh

Julia Gruen, Haring's former studio manager and director of the Keith Haring Foundation, said: “While it would be a great honour to show in London, coming here to Liverpool my suspicions were confirmed that it was the right place. The city has this amazing youth culture and music history.

"We’re a major loaner from a huge collection he left us. We hold the international copyrights. We can provide all kinds of material and information from our archive. And people from Keith’s circle are still around.

“We don’t dictate what is in the show or what it looks like. Hanging the works of a single artist isn’t easy. They don’t always play well together. But this show is so stunningly curated and beautiful. It has a phenomenal energy and freshness.

“One of the things this show also accomplishes is that you can see Keith’s style really does evolve. He always went back to his original language, but the choice of works demonstrates that he wasn’t static.”

Keith Haring is at Tate Liverpool from June 14 to November 10 2019. Tickets from the website HERE

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