For a reminder of a different time in NYC history, check out the Keith Haring show at the Brooklyn Museum, which opened just recently. I made the trip over to Kings County to check it out.
If you lived in a Manhattan rental apartment in the late-1970s to mid-1980s, you remember it well: the rawness and the grit, the energy and the edginess, the danger and desolation all over town, from swaths of the Upper West Side to much of SoHo to all of the Meatpacking District to, well… lots of places that seem so friendly and cleaned-up today.
And, of course, there were the subways, that New York City icon, symbol of democracy, and which, in that downtrodden era, were loud, scary and screaming with graffiti. Deplorable…. unless, like me, you were a graffiti-enthusiast. THEN, on certain days, in certain cars, on certain platforms, great works of art would appear before you, and the serendipity of that moment–when a train roared by with a glorious burner on its side, or an ad space on your station’s platform that was blank the night before was filled overnight with cartoony barking dogs, flying saucers, and a row of dancing boys–made up for whatever discomfort you may have been feeling just a few seconds before.
Which is all by way of saying that the just-opened Keith Haring show at the Brooklyn Museum is one of those great NYC-nostalgia-trip sorts of exhibitions that may baffle the uninitiated (and is unlikely to convert the unappreciative), but is sure to be enjoyed by fans of street art, and those of us who, while we wouldn’t want to return to those grim days here in our beloved city, still hold a place in our heart for that decidedly untidy era.
“Keith Haring: 1978-1982″ at the Brooklyn Museum (the name is kind of bizarrely misleading, by the way, as there are plenty of works here from both before ’78 and after ’82) features more than 150 works of paper, including several large-scale murals; several videos from Haring’s days as a student at School of Visual Arts; and some 150 “archival objects” such as journals, exhibition flyers and posters, subway drawings (as they appeared back then!), and documentary photographs. And playing in the background throughout? Classic late ’70s and early ’80s music, like Devo, Blondie, and the Talking Heads.
I’ve always been pro-Keith Haring (there are those who find him overrated) and so I liked a great deal of the Brooklyn Museum’s Keith Haring show, especially since there were a surprising number of pieces and objects which were totally new to me. Not that anything here is unrecognizably Keith Haring–the man found his style early, and stuck to it–but his lines were a bit looser in the early days, and his subjects perhaps a bit more varied.
One thing you should note, sex and body parts were ALWAYS of interest to Keith Haring, so if you have any doubts, re: appropriateness, you might want to check the Brooklyn Museum website first, for a preview of some of the more raunchy works.
Basically: recommended for those of you who think it’d be cool. That said, this is a pretty slight exhibition, and there’s not much else going on in the Brooklyn Museum right now (that place has so much promise, and so rarely delivers), so if you’re coming from in from, say, Manhattan, you should probably plan some other nearby activity (Prospect Park! Brooklyn Botanical Garden!) while you’re in the great Borough of Kings.
“Keith Haring: 1978 – 1982″ will be at the Brooklyn Museum until July 6, 2012. The Brooklyn Museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. More information on the Keith Haring show and the Brooklyn Museum in general can be found on their website.
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