If you keep up with my Instagram (@tan_carter) then you know that I was absolutely enamored by the Keith Haring exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum.
Prior to the exhibit, I knew nothing about Haring. Of course, I saw his work used to push the AIDS campaign and replicas of his work on, like, iPhone covers, but I never really delved into the artist’s life.
His works told me the most about him. Which is the purpose of art.
The first thing I noticed was that majority of his works are “Untitled”. I assume that the work is so undefinable that labeling it would take away from how abstract it is. Him leaving no title gives his audience an opportunity to interpret the work they see fit. A title would have been pushing an “agenda” and taking away from his expression used to form the work. The picture below is of a video, shown in the the first corridor of the exhibit, that captures Haring painting “Painting Myself Into A Corner” from start to finish. If only you could have gotten a chance to see that. Reflect on how he painted with such assurance and expression, if you did.
As I continued the exhibit, Haring’s notebook of “Drawings of Penises” caught my eye. For all of the obvious reasons. No creative thinking needed here, Haring was gay and “Superbad” used Haring’s obsession as a comedic reference. Genius.
This piece, also “Untitled” resonated the most with me. Haring contracted HIV in 1988. Prior to his diagnosis, he lived a promiscuous artist’s lifestyle and infected a host of people. I believe that this painting tells that story. What intrigued me the most is the wall between him and his penis, signifying the disconnect he had while spreading the disease.
After finding out he contracted the disease, Haring dedicated his last few years to HIV/AIDS awareness. In 1989, Haring started the Keith Haring Foundation to provide funding and imagery to AIDS organizations. From then until forever, his works can be donated to tell his story and leave his legacy. Haring could have decided to hoard himself into his apartment and hide until his death. Instead, he used this unfotunate event to spread knowledge and hopefully help someone else.
(Cover of 1992 AIDS Benefit Album)
I am using my first experience at the Brooklyn Museum as a way to spread a message. Wrap it Up and Get Tested! Sex isn’t as taboo as it used to be. People are heralding being promiscious (or some would call it being “sexually liberated”, no offense) and there are some starting to be reckless. If you are active, protect yourself! What’s a few minutes of pleasure to a lifetime daily reminder? Your health comes first. You can’t grind at your best, if you don’t feel your best!