Keith Haring exhibit open in Brooklyn

April 18, 2012 2:36:59 PM PDT
The trademark lines and signature tag are all unmistakably Keith Haring.

This is the first large scale exhibit focusing on the artist. Many of the works on display have never been seen before and highlight Haring's life goal - to shatter the idea that art is for an elite few. He believed art is for the masses

"He really opened up something in the art market of the 1980's which was very much about a lot of money and a lot of star quality, he really began and ended with wanting to bring art to the people in a populist way that was very humanist," Tricia Laughlin Bloom of the Brooklyn Museum said.

The show at the Brooklyn Museum follows Haring's career starting in 1978, when he first came to New York City. He was 19.

Most of the pieces are large scale works with a common link- a universally understood vocabulary of simplified visual images with powerful messages.

"Aids education and awareness and crack is whack and he even did a campaign with the NYC sanitation department on don't be a litter pig," Laughlin Bloom said.

It is a traveling exhibit, but a section of Haring's original subway drawings was just added. Back in the 1980s, the MTA would cover unused advertising panels with black paper. Haring saw it as an opportunity to show his work. He created hundreds of them.

"What he did was basically insert himself into that commercial process and put up as many drawings as he could before the advertisements went over them," Laughlin Bloom said.

Haring is no doubt one of the most celebrated artists of all time, but was often wary of his own success as he straddled two worlds.

In June of 1989, Keith Haring painted his last public work. He died the following year from complications from aids. He was just 31.

The exhibition, which began in Vienna, will be at the Brooklyn Museum through July 8. For more information, please visit

The Keith Haring Foundation is posting Haring's journals to Tumblr throughout the exhibition. Click here for a page a day!

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