Have you heard of the name, “Keith Haring?” While the name may not be familiar, you may have encountered his artworks more than a few times in your life. His graffiti-like artwork with his repetitive but simple characters appeared in many genres of pop culture such as album covers, t-shirts, and celebrity tattoos.
Keith Haring was an American artist whose work is well known for developing the pop art culture in the 1980s. He won fame for preaching the preciousness of life and love through the pop culture that was popular at his time. As one whose art was his life, he wanted to awaken the birth, death, and universal love of life through art. Celebrating the 60th anniversary of Keith Haring’s birth, collector Kazuo Nakamura decided to present Haring’s pieces to the Korean public. This exhibition is a large-scale exhibition, intending to feature not only the works, but also the beliefs of Keith Haring, who dreamed of "art for all," including concepts of world peace and the elimination of racial discrimination.
In the exhibition, Keith Haring's 177 works, which have incorporated a variety of style from painting to sculpting, were divided into eight sections. These sections were named “Beginning of Expression,” “Storytelling for All,” “Transcendence through Artistic Hallucination,” “Remarks through Messages and Music,” “Haring Codes, Symbols and Icons,” “Harmony with Primitive Energy,” “The End of the Beginning, and “The Beginning of the End.”
I was thrilled to see some of my favorite pieces, which were also Haring’s most famous ones: “Icon,” “Pyramid,” “People,” “Blueprinting,” “The Shining Baby,” and “Dog.” I was especially excited because it was my first time seeing these pieces in person.
While I enjoyed all sections within the exhibition, my favorite was definitely “Remarks through Messages and Music.” As a fan of both music and art, I found Keith Haring’s collaborations with famous artists fairly interesting. What was even more interesting to me was his ability to express his interests through his artwork. According to the explanations written on the exhibition walls, Haring showed his concerns in AIDS prevention, homosexual rights, drugs, racial discrimination, war, violence and nature preservation. To express them to the public, he created posters regarding these social issues to capture the public's attention and issue a need for change. Surprisingly, Haring’s collaboration with artists was his way of expression. The piece that stood out to me the most was his collaboration with David Bowie, in which he drew two shining figures hugging each other for the album cover of “Without You.” Haring had successfully depicted the message: ‘connection through love’ that the songs in Bowie’s album meant to deliver. It was fascinating that such simple figures and lines could fully show what the songs in the album were about.
|[Photo of Dog, 1985 Giclee Print by Keith Haring; Photo by Hajin Jang]
What I liked about this exhibition in comparison to other ones was how I got to explore the entirety of Keith Haring’s life through one exhibition. The way the pieces were divided into sections not only helped me understand how the way his style changed throughout the years, but also his intentions in creating every single one of the 177 pieces displayed in the exhibition. Additionally, I learned the lesson of following my interests and taking action to bring a positive change in society for the issues that I am passionate about. I would recommend this exhibition not only to Keith Haring’s fans, but those who are looking for a refreshing shock that would transform their perception of the world.
|[Keith Haring x David Bowie ‘Without You’ Album;
Photo by Jisoo Park of ‘문화가 있는 날']
▶ To find out what an ordinary person might think of Keith Haring and his art, I interviewed a fellow classmate of mine.
|[Hajin Jang in front of Pop Shop Tetralogy, 1987 Posters by Keith Haring;
Photo by Soyoung Kim, Hajin Jang’s Mother]
Have you heard of pop-artist Keith Haring or are you familiar with his work(s)? If yes, how did you first encounter them?
Yes, I do know him. My family and I went to visit one of his exhibitions when I was younger, and I’ve known him ever since.
It has been almost 20 years since the artist passed away. Do you think his popularity has waned since then?
No, not at all. Though people may not know his name, Keith Haring's particular style of art is still well-known and quite popular. I still see products such as t-shirts and eco-bags with his art printed on them.
When you see Keith Haring's art, what is the first thought that pops up on your mind?
My first thoughts were that his style of art is quite unfamiliar and unique. At first, his art may seem unorganized and messy, but after some time, Keith Haring's dynamic characters become very appealing. His particular design seems to captivate the audience.
Do you think people unfamiliar with Keith Haring and his art can enjoy the exhibition?
Definitely yes! I believe that his use of eye-catching, vivid colors would greatly appeal to the audience even though they do not know him or his art. ◀
Keith Haring’s exhibition locates at Dongdaemun Design Plaza(DDP) and is open until March 17th of 2019. Open from 10 A.M to 8 P.M, the Keith Haring exhibition welcomes visitors every day of the week. For general visitors from age 19 to 64, the ticket sells for 13,000 won; for those from age 13-18, 11,000 won; and for those from age 7-12, 9,000 won. Tickets can be purchased in advance to your visit at Interpark Ticket and for more information, visit Interpark's official website: http://ticket.interpark.com/. Last but not least, in great proximity with the exhibition entrance is a pop store that displays Keith Haring’s merchandise. Be sure to check it out!
Chadwick International School
Hajin Jang email@example.com
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