Keith Haring: The Political Line

L: Keith Haring, Untitled, 1982. Vinyl ink on vinyl tarpaulin. Private collection. © Keith Haring Foundation; R: Keith Haring, Untitled, 1982. Vinyl ink on vinyl tarpaulin. Private collection. © Keith Haring Foundation

Keith Haring: The Political Line

November 8, 2014February 16, 2015
Herbst Special Exhibition Galleries

Keith Haring: The Political Line will have its US premiere at the de Young, and is the first major Haring show on the West Coast in nearly two decades. Many of the works are on loan from the Keith Haring Foundation, New York, with supplemental loans from public and private collections. Several pieces have not been published or on public view since the artist’s death in 1990.

The Political Line will feature more than 130 works of art including large-scale paintings on tarpaulins and canvases, sculptures, and a number of the artist’s subway drawings, among others. The exhibition will create a narrative that explores Haring’s responses to nuclear disarmament, racial inequality, the excesses of capitalism, environmental degradation, and other issues of deep personal concern to him.

Haring’s work has long been a part of San Francisco’s visual culture. He created works for diverse venues in San Francisco during his lifetime, including murals for DV8, an underground club once located in the South of Market neighborhood, and a huge, multi-panel painting for the South of Market Childcare Center. Haring’s outdoor sculpture Untitled (Three Dancing Figures) (1989), located at Third and Howard Streets, is a prominent feature of Moscone Convention Center and his triptych altarpiece The Life of Christ (1990) is installed in the AIDS Chapel at Grace Cathedral.

Haring fought tirelessly to end the AIDS epidemic in his work and personal life. He established the Keith Haring Foundation in 1989 and enlisted his imagery during the last years of his life to speak about his own illness and generate activism and awareness about AIDS. By the time of his death at age 31, he had achieved international fame. His influence on his own generation and those that have followed is a testament to his enduring vision.

About Keith Haring

Keith Haring (1958–90) was preeminent among the downtown New York City community of young artists, performers, and musicians whose work responded to urban street culture. During a brief but intense career that spanned the 1980s, Haring’s work was featured in over 100 solo and group exhibitions. In 1986 alone, he was the subject of more than 40 newspaper and magazine articles. Haring also devoted much of his time to public works. He produced more than 50 public artworks between 1982 and 1989 in dozens of cities around the world, many of which were created for charities, hospitals, children’s day care centers, and orphanages. Keith Haring died in New York in February 1990 of AIDS-related illnesses. Although his career was brief, his imagery remains a universally recognized visual language of the 20th and 21st centuries.

This exhibition is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.