Skarstedt Chelsea have just announced an exhibition of work by American artist Keith Haring, at their Chelsea gallery this March. The exhibition will uniquely present 5 major works on canvas, all at a monumental scale and dating from 1984-1985, exposing a lesser-known side to the iconic artist. Keith Haring: Heaven and Hell will be on view at Skarstedt Chelsea.
The exhibition’s title, Heaven and Hell, recalls William Blake’s 18th century poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell – a study in opposites of good and evil, angels and devils. As William Blake wrote, “Without contraries is no progression.”1 Haring similarly examined his 1984-1985 paintings. The apparent the duality between two sides of contemporary life in?antagonism and struggle between the figures is one of the key features of Haring’s art.
Best known for his cartoonish shapes and oversized red hearts, his more aggressive and at times provocative and sexually explicit imagery is often under-recognized. Incorporating seemingly childlike or naïve shapes, Haring’s art is more than just dancing figures, with much of his work exploring deeper societal issues and demonstrating a remarkable grasp of the ambiguities of his generation.
Haring’s work strikes a delicate balance between heavy and light, playful and serious—a balance intrinsic not only to his art, but to his life. Creating visual puzzles of iconography from the mythological to the mundane, Haring’s oeuvre draws on the influence of street art, with a visual language including his own alphabet of symbols and shapes.
With a strong background in social activism, Haring’s canvases respond to the street culture so integral to his artistic development, while making political statements still poignant to this day. Thirty years after these works were created, Haring’s paintings seem to anticipate the future with a prescient relevance to today’s society.
Keith Haring Heaven and Hell March 5th – April 18th, 2015 Skarstedt, Chelsea 550 West 21st Street
New York, NY 10011 www.skarstedt.com
About Keith Haring:
Keith Haring was born in Kutztown, Pennsylvania in 1958. He moved to New York City in 1976 to study at the School of Visual Arts, where he developed his trademark graffiti-inspired style. During the 1980’s, he found a space for expression in the New York subway, where he created marker drawings on walls and advertisements. These drawings would eventually evolve into paintings, large- scale murals, and varied art objects in which a myriad of interlocking cartoon-style figures would interact. Haring’s involvement in the New York club culture of the 1970’s and 1980’s provided him with a variety of motifs and imagery from contemporary life to incorporate into his bold, colorful works. Haring further blended the boundaries between high and low art when he opened The Pop Shop, where he sold multiple products with what became popular motifs. After being diagnosed with AIDS in the latter part of the 1980’s, the political element to Haring’s work strengthened as a means to promote awareness about the disease.
Before his death in 1990, Keith Haring exhibited his work extensively throughout the United States and Europe. Recent solo exhibitions were held at the de Young Museum in San Francisco in 2014, the Brooklyn Museum in 2012, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Lyon, France in 2008, and the Fundación Caixa Galicia in Ferrol, Spain in 2007. He also had exhibitions in major institutions including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, and the Kunsthalle in Cologne. After ten years of research, Rizzoli published a comprehensive monograph of Haring’s work in 2008, which is closely based on the concept the artist himself wanted to publish before his death.