People were laughing openly on the New York subways. Who and what could make somebody do that? I would see these black and white images flash by me. A baby. A dog. The dog looked like he was barking. For a moment I could forget the guy with his armpit in my face stinked like hell. I could forget the subway is just a back alley in another urinetown. I was seeing poetry visible. Song in the sign. And the singer was singing real good. For free. Most noble is a shared soul and the one who lays it bare without charge. There were days I got by on the laugh given me in those brief flashes of joyous comedic image by Keith Haring, child of the Eighties, dead before his forties could take hold and perhaps jade his golden heart. N'est pas possible, as one of his international admirers would have said. Haring spoke to the world with simple lines.
Where is the canvas upon which great art is drawn? Art with limits is small art. Art is drawn upon the human soul and moves out from there to whereever it wants. Impish. Insolent to the powerful. Comfort to the meek.
KEITH HARING IN HIS OWN WORDS: Doing things in public was not a new idea. The climate of art in New York at that time was certainly moving in that direction. It seemed obvious to me when I saw the first empty subway panel that this was the perfect situation. The advertisements that fill every subway panel that this was the perfect situation. The advertisements that fill every subway platform are changed periodically. When there aren't enough new ads, a black paper panel is substituted. I remember noticing a panel in the Times Square station and immediately going aboveground and buying chalk. After the first drawing, things just fell into place. I began drawing in the subways as a hobby on my way to work. I had to ride the subways often and would do a drawing while waiting for a train. In a few weeks, I started to get responses from people who saw me
After a while, my subway drawings became more of a responsibility than a hobby. So many people wished me luck and told me to "keep it up" that it became difficult to stop. From the beginning, one of the main incentives was this contact with people I It became a rewarding experience to draw and to see the drawings being appreciated. The number of people passing one of these drawings in a week was phenomal. Even if the drawing only remained up for only one day, enough people saw it tomake it easily worth my effort. The panel remains from a few days to a few weeks before a new advertisement is posted on tip of it. This constant replenishment forces me to keep inventing new images and ideas
The images are part of the collective consciousness of modern man. Sometimes they stem from world events, sometimes from ideas about technology or people changing roles in relation to God and evolution. All of the drawings use images that universally "readable". They are are often inspired by popular culture.
The drawings are designed to provoke people to think and use their own imagination. They don't have exact definitions but challenge the viewer to assert his or her own ideas and interpretation.
Sometimes, people find this uncomfortable, especially because the drawings arei n a space usually reserved for advertisements which tell you exactly what to think. Sometimes the advertisements on the side of the empty panels provide inspiration for the drawings and often create ironic associations.More here.
Art from a collected resolute soul belongs not to the collector, but to us all. Art is where you find it. Everywhere.
Dumpster one day, Haggerty Museum Milwaukee, Wisconsin the next.
Art is within us all. From some it just bursts forth more openly.
A CONTINUING MESSAGE FROM KEITH HARING FOR OUR TIMES I have been drawing in
the subway for three years now, and although my career aboveground has skyrocketed,
the subway is still my favorite place to draw. There is something very "real"
about the subway system and the people who travel in it; perhaps there is not
another place in the world where people of such diverse appearance, background,
and life-style have intermingled for a common purpose. In this underground environment,
one can often feel a sense of oppression and struggle in the vast assortment of
faces. It is in this context that an expression of hope and beauty carries the
greatest rewards. Keith Haring