Manhattan Penis Drawings for Ken Hicks collects together the artist Keith Haring’s penis drawings that were inspired by the architecture of the New York borough. Created in the late 70s, there’s a cartoonish and boyish indulgence about his “dick drawings,” but Haring blends this humour with deeper concerns about power, sex and politics.
Published by Zurich-based Nieves, the book is simply put together with a single drawing on each double page spread. His line drawings are sparse yet the texture from Haring’s sporadic and scratchy markings gives the series energy. Some of the artist’s interpretations are quite literal, like his drawing of the Twin Towers reimagined as two erect penises. Others take a more abstract approach like the image titled Drawing penises in front of The Museum of Modern Art where phallic shapes obstruct our view of the building and another drawing that shows a frenetic mass of penises to represent the hubbub of New York’s streets while emulating futurist paintings. Throughout his work, Haring used this playfulness to tap into more serious issues and this particular series of works offer a fascinating and tongue-in-cheek glimpse into the artist’s later work.
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