Keith Haring: The Political Line has 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, including large-scale paintings on tarpaulins and canvases, sculptures, and a number of the artist’s subway drawings. The exhibition creates a narrative that explores Haring’s responses to nuclear proliferation, racial inequality, the excesses of capitalism, environmental degradation, and other issues of deep personal concern.
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, a club once located in the South of Market neighborhood, and a huge, multi-panel painting for the South of Market Childcare Center (also known as the Saint Patrick's Daycare 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.
Keith Haring, Untitled (Three Dancing Figures), 1989. Collection of the City and County of San Francisco. Keith Haring artwork © The Keith Haring Foundation
Haring fought tirelessly in his work and personal life to end the AIDS epidemic. 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 (1958–1990) 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 more than 100 solo and group exhibitions. Haring also devoted much of his time between 1982 and 1989 to producing more than 50 public artworks in dozens of cities around the world, many of which were created for charities, hospitals, children’s day care centers, and orphanages. Haring died in New York in February 1990 of AIDS-related illnesses. Although his career was brief, his imagery remains vital to the universally recognized visual language of the late 20th century. Learn more.
L: Keith Haring, self-portrait, 1980–81. One of our Polaroids. Collection of the Keith Haring Foundation. R: Unknown photographer, Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, c. 1983–1984. Polaroid. Collection of the Keith Haring Foundation
This exhibition is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
Penny and James George Coulter
Sloan and Roger Barnett
Ray and Dagmar Dolby Family Fund
Holly Johnson Harris and Parker Harris
The Shimmon Family
The Buena Vista Fund of Horizons Foundation
Juliet de Baubigny
Richard and Peggy Greenfield
The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
The catalogue is published with the assistance of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Endowment for Publications.