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April 17, 2013

Keith Haring's Political Side

By Susan Michals | Arts + Culture

Keith Haring’s Political Side
Untitled, Septembre 1982, © Keith Haring Foundation

This year is looking a lot like the 1980s (Day-Glo fashion, anyone?), and art exhibitions around the globe are following suit. A show of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work just closed at Manhattan’s Gagosian Gallery, a collection of Warhols will be on display at the Scottish Parliament in October and “The Political Line”—one of the most extensive retrospectives of Keith Haring to date—opens on April 19 at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.

Haring, who studied at New York’s School of Visual Arts and skyrocketed to celebrity in the 1980s, cemented his legacy as a pop-art icon before dying of AIDS-related complications at age 31. His work runs the gamut of street art—from text-based collages to subterranean chalk drawings to his iconic block figures emblazoning everything from coffee mugs to Nicholas Kirkwood heels—and has been exhibited alongside heavyweights like Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Jenny Holzer and Daniel Buren, as well as Basquiat and Warhol.

But “The Political Line,” which highlights the diversity of Haring’s iconography over the course of his career, goes beyond what we think we know about the artist and his beliefs. “This show will focus on how important he is in the world of art, as well as his sociopolitical investment in society as an artist,” says curator Odile Burluraux. Featuring more than 250 works—including a selection of large-scale paintings on view at Paris’s Le Centquatre—the exhibit touches on topics such as capitalism, racism and AIDS. “His works are not only masterworks,” Burluraux says, “they really carry a message that still resonates today.” Exhibition sponsored by Citizens of Humanity; Through August 18; 11 Av. du Président Wilson; 33-1/5367-4000; mam.paris.fr/en.