MCA Denver Exclusive / Limited Edition 18" x 24" poster
Keith Haring: Grace House Mural exhibition on view now, features, for the first time since it was created, a site-specific painting that Haring executed in 1983/84 for those living at Grace House, a Catholic youth center in Manhattan. Recently excavated from its original site, the mural now exists as a series of 13 panels and additional ephemera including the original plaque, mailbox, and two doors that Haring integrated into his design, which collectively mark the details of its initial installation.
After experimenting with collage and automatic drawing, Keith Haring (b. 1958, Kutztown, PA, d. 1990) developed an immediate, direct, and unmediated approach to artmaking, which Grace House Mural vividly reflects. As with much of Haring’s painting, this project makes clear how the strength of his work lies in part in his bold and flexible use of line. A fluid, confident, jubilant application of paint on the wall pulsates with energy and vitality. If anything can be noted about Haring’s graphic style, it is that it is expansive, always seeming to extend beyond a frame, to stretch into our space, and to be in conversation and engaged with its viewer.
Androgynous bodies, dog-like animals, action, ENERGY, movement, dance, performance – all of these formed his developing alphabet of forms and ideas and are manifest in Grace House Mural. His creative approach unleashes ideas, forms, creative images, and language, from their original context or structure, and allows them to breathe on their own. The universality of his pictorial forms also enabled a more direct access to his ideas. He employed the simplest of means to communicate directly with the public, and to create work that was accessible to all viewers. Beginning with his early drawings made across subway stations in New York City and continuing through his large-scale public murals, at the heart of his creative efforts was a democratizing of his art and a commitment to sharing it as widely as possible. Much like these subway drawings, which were fragile, delicate, and performative, Grace House Mural intends to foster and facilitate a public engagement with art.
Grace House Mural was designed specifically to inspire and elevate the spirits of some of New York’s at-risk teens and includes some of his most iconic motifs: the ‘Radiant Baby’, ‘Barking Dog’, and dancing figures. This work is part of a select group of Haring murals–of the forty-five created during his lifetime, less than half remain today.
Keith Haring died of complications due to AIDS at the age of 31 on February 16, 1990. He spoke of his mortality shortly before his death and recognized what his creative project had achieved: “A more holistic and basic idea of wanting to incorporate [art] into every part of life, less as an egotistical exercise and more natural somehow. I don’t know how to exactly explain it. Taking it off the pedestal. I’m giving it back to the people, I guess.”
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