Sunday, October 09, 2005

Keith Haring's "Pop Shop" closes

Speaking recently of Keith Haring, the pop artist who's credited with executing the brilliant nude body art on Grace Jones in the eighties, his landmark Pop Shop in New York recently closed: astronomical rent. But there's a massive undertaking underway to preserve the tens of thousands of square inches of priceless art that Haring completed before his death in 1990. Much of it integrated within the Pop Shop's very infrastructure.

Pop culture artist Keith Haring
Julia Gruen, executive director of the Keith Haring Foundation, told New York magazine this of the sad occasion, and the daunting task of preserving his treasures:

It’ll cost “between $20,000 and $40,000 just to extract the ceiling,” Gruen said. “It’ll have to be cut into many pieces simply to get it out the door.” After it’s gone, the ceiling will be stored in a warehouse, awaiting some final home that probably won’t be a Park Avenue apartment. Unlike Untitled #4, a 60-by-60-foot acrylic from 1988 that set a record for a Haring when it sold for $511,000 last year, “the market won’t treat this as something made with the intention of being a framed work on a wall,” says Cappellazzo. She dismisses the idea that it would be sold. “I hope it has a life in some place like the New-York Historical Society.


Drawing the Line, in DVD and VHS format, tells Keith Haring's remarkable story from a childhood in Kutztown, PA to the NYC, where he became art world darling Pop artist Keith Haring with one of his works. Haring, a fine quality paperback published by Taschen, is a top-selling biography on pop artist Keith Haring Brilliant book of Keith Haring posters, titled Short Messages, features a diverse mix of 100 of his best loved works.

Part of what made Haring's work so popular was its unabashed embrace of colorful subcultures -- skateboarders, Hip-hoppers, and the homosexual underground. As his popularity soared among these audiences, the more highbrow, Uptown art crowd had little choice than to recognize the Youth Quake he was generating.

Much like Andy Warhol, a cult figure artist with whom Haring's impact is frequently compared, Keith Haring opened the door and allowed real, contemporary life into his art. With ''the street'' in his work, he instantly made connections with the common audiences -- as opposed to the educated viewer. Such accessibility was also furthered by his POP SHOP in SoHo, New York, and later in Japan, which sold pieces of his 'commercial art' -- watches, T-shirts, posters, and other fun, affordable wearable art.

Link to Spike magazine story

Quotes about his work, in Haring's own words

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