“Feel Good Art” by Keith Haring: The Political Line at the DeYoung Museum Review

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FINAL WEEKS OF THE EXHIBIT= CLOSES ON FEB 16th

As the first major West Coast art show of the prominent  NYC-based artist , Keith Haring, I was delighted with the direction, design, and layout of ‘The Political Line’ exhibit at the DeYoung Museum nestled in the heart of the Golden Gate Park in the city by the bay, San Francisco, California.

This particular show had a light hearted feel but with good intentions in making the subject matter a) more apparent by the sheer audacity of content, b) an abstraction in the approach to the artist’ s own physical and emotional pain and c) Haring shows to still have a strong hold of the pulse of the city life, communicating visual commentary on the whittling down of a culture saturated with idealism. Fortunately, with the help of his friends, he showed his ability to traverse the adversity by creating awareness and overcoming uncertainty at the best he could by the copious paintings, journals, and sculptures that encompassed Keith Haring’s short but impactful life.

Additionally, I learned a lot more about K. Haring’s installation phase within the New York subway system during the 1980s and it was apparent to me by the end of the exhibit that from this ‘street art’ approach from the beginning included having to work quickly in between trains boarding and evading security, that this what initially drove his passion- to be the messenger and commentate on social media even before Facebook was one word and a tweet could be heard round the world in less than 30 seconds.

“I didn’t start doing graffiti until two years after I got to New York. Jean Michel Basquiat was one of my main inspirations for doing graffiti. For a year I didn’t know who Jean Michel was, but I knew his work.”

-Keith Haring

This trend is apparent all the way through to his later work that consists of many bright color vinyl tarps contrasting in the background with Haring’s infamous quickly deliberate brushstrokes intricate as a jigsaw puzzle meandering its way through out the composition. I found as I continued through the exhibition, after the first glimpse of delightful and vivacious color, I discovered that at the huge scale of the layout of the artworks often called for a directional energy created to draw the eye into certain aspects of the painting. To me, this truly demonstrates his ability and the reasoning behind his bold execution and how he was less worried less about something looking exactly how he pictured it originally and was more about the process and experience that happened while creating the art object.

Overall, even though a lot of the exhibit showcased very strong color as well as great symbolism, the overwhelming emotion I left the exhibit concluded with an overall good feeling. From the pieces I had the pleasure to view, it is apparent to me even more so that Keith Haring’s paintings and sculptures could definitely be described as ” Feel Good Art” because of the abstract painterly figures, bright tones, along with stark , graffiti-like contrast between the foreground and background allows for ample interpersonal interpretation for each viewer.

“I think you have to control the materials to an extent, but it’s important to let the materials have a kind of power for themselves; like the natural power of gravity, if you are painting on a wall, it makes the paint trickle and it drips; there is no reason to fight that.”

Keith Haring
If you’ve taken the time to read this far, FEEL THE LOVE & take a moment to comment on whether or not you are planning to go or what you thought of the Keith Haring exhibit at the DeYoung Museum.

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