Against All Odds: Keith Haring
Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA
Novemeber 8, 2008 - January 18, 2009
This exhibition, specifically organized for the Palm Springs Art Museum and personally curated by Mark Coetzee, Rubell Family Collection director, is the first of other future collaborations between the two museums involving a range of initiatives featuring exhibitions drawn from the rich holdings of the Rubell Family Collection.
The exhibition presents work Haring produced after his early mural and graffiti art. Included in the exhibition are 70 paintings, drawings and one sculpture spanning from works he created for his first gallery exhibition in 1982 to others made closer to his death in 1990 at the age of 31. The exhibition also includes 33 works by other artists who were important friends and artistic peers in Haring's life, such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francesco Clemente, George Condo, Tseng Kwong Chi, and Andy Warhol. Contextualized by the art of his associates, Haring's colorful and playful, yet equally powerful, acidic work records the lively engagement of art and culture that represented a key aspect of the New York art scene of the 1980s.
The deep representation of Haring's work in the Rubell Family Collection allows the assemblage of an exhibition with an unconventional perspective. It strives to deconstruct the traditional view of Haring as a Pop artist who created memorable but somewhat superficial graphic icons in favor of an exploration of Haring as an accomplished draftsman concerned with line and mark-making as a metaphor and practice to address weighty themes that are too often overlooked in his art, including environmental destruction, consumerism and capitalism, poverty, religious dogma, aids, violence, and racism. What emerges is a recalibrated picture of an artist strongly engaged with the social and political issues of his era. Preeminent in the exhibition are works in which linear qualities and expressiveness are dominant over color and other compositional elements. Similar graphic concerns can be seen in certain of the works by Haring's friends, and also apparent are parallelisms of social and humanistic subject matter. Haring attempted to bring different distressful elements of his era into focus and educate us about our social and natural environments. In one of the works in the show he wrote, "These drawings are about the Earth we inherited and the dismal task of trying to inherit it - against all odds."
Education programs scheduled with the exhibition include a series of films about the artists, including The Universe of Keith Haring [November 9], Conversations with Jean-Michel Basquiat [November 23], and A Walk Into the Sea (a film about Andy Warhol) [date TBD]. The museum's Teen Art Group will also work with members of Gay Associated Youth to create an in-gallery collaborative experience centered on viewing the works in the exhibition and responding through writing and personal interaction as a means of empowerment.
Additionally, the art museum will offer a series of lectures and private tours of the exhibition to art students of Palm Desert's College of the Desert. A panel discussion at the opening night reception will be held with the Rubell Family and members of museum staff, centering on the Rubells' history of collecting and especially their involvement with Keith Haring. An audio tour of the exhibition will be available on an iPod platform. And on January 6, Mark Coetzee will present a formal lecture elaborating upon themes established in the exhibition.
A fully illustrated catalogue for the exhibition will be available, with introductory essay by Mark Coetzee. Co-published by the RFC and Palm Springs Art Museum, it will be the first publication to examine in depth the full range of works by Haring in the Rubell collection.
Artists in the Exhibition:
Tseng Kwong Chi