Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art in Budapest Celebrates Keith Haring with Exhibition

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Keith Haring, Untitled, 1983, sumi ink on paper. 97.8 x 127 cm. © Estate of Keith Haring, New York.

BUDAPEST.- Keith Haring, having died of AIDS at the age of 31, would be 50 years old in 2008. His anniversary is going to be celebrated with several exhibitions and events all over the world. The Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art in Budapest contributes to the celebration with a unique exhibition organized in co-operation with the Keith Haring Foundation in New York. It will be the first time that such a comprehensive overview on his oeuvre is exhibited in Hungary, which is fascinatingly rich and multifaceted, although it embraces merely a decade.

Haring’s characteristic figures, the ‘radiant baby’ and the ‘barking dog’ are well-known to millions of people. He developed this easily recognizable style (based on line) as a means of expression first in the New York Metro system by drawing on empty advertisement spaces. He was inspired by the work of graffiti artists and hip hop culture. Several other trends and artistic strategies also influenced his work, from Abstract Expressionism to Andy Warhol and Pop Art. Although he used various materials and surfaces – paper, waterproof canvas, huge mural surfaces, cars or even human bodies – he always created his paintings and drawings with a single light gesture, without making sketches or corrections.

For Haring, art’s most important task was communication. He wanted to reach as wide an audience as possible, which is why he promoted his works not only in museums and exhibitions, but on a variety of surfaces in various forms. Keith Haring’s art could be found on public spaces or on products he sold in his own shop - the Pop Shop. Although it was his intention to make his art accessible for the general public, today the price of his works sets records on the art market that are unaffordable to most.

In his works the criticism of American consumer society merges with elements of Christian iconography or symbols of civilizations outside Europe (or the Earth.) The inhabitants of this characteristic universe are cartoon figures, televisions, computers, dollar signs, pyramids and flying saucers; also included are his iconic people and dogs, angels and monsters. By means of his unique, complex system of symbols, he evokes the universal visions of violence and power, love and desire, and illness and death. One of Keith Haring’s last works, the Altarpiece belongs to the Ludwig Museum’s collection. It is to be exhibited in a new context within the framework of this exhibition. The Keith Haring Foundation’s mission is to protect the legacy of Keith Haring, his art, and his ideals. The Foundation also supports children’s charities and organizations involved in the fight against AIDS.

The exhibition will be displayed in the Ludwig Museum on 800 square meters, with 11 paintings and more than 80 graphics representing Keith Haring’s oeuvre between 1979-1989.

The exhibition is curated by Krisztina Szipőcs.
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