A set of over 100 Keith Haring posters has gone on show at Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG). A gift to the gallery by Hamburg collector Claus von der Osten and curated by Dr Jürgen Döring, Keith Haring: Posters will provide a unique insight into the artist’s vision as well as his social and political concerns spanning human rights, tolerance, education, and awareness around AIDS, the disease which led to his death in 1990. Keith Haring was one of the first artists to publicly address the threat of AIDS through his work.
The first posters presented in Keith Haring: Posters date back to 1982, a year in which the artist and former graphic design student made four posters. The following year, he made nine, before long escalating to create to between ten and 20 posters per year, rivalling both Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg in output and championing posters as a format. “Generally, artists’ posters announce their own exhibitions, and the same applies to Haring,” the gallery explains. “Yet of the approximately 100 works made in his lifetime, 23 are dedicated to different sociopolitical topics, and 26 to cultural events; Haring designed only 19 to advertise his own exhibitions.”
Haring’s posters carry the same immediacy which now defines the artist’s instantly recognisable style. Large figures and bold outlines dominate the posters, making their messages easily accessible by adults and children, echoing his chalk-based Subway drawing. Although as MKG comments: “the script, found in this form only on the posters, strikes the eye at once. The patterns, too, are generally simpler than in most of Haring’s drawings and especially his larger paintings. In addition, many of the posters’ representations address their subjects directly and allow a clear interpretation, a characteristic shared only rarely by the independent paintings and drawings. Particularly the posters aimed at children display a downright illustrative directness.”
Keith Haring: Posters will be on show at MKG, Hamburg until 5 November 2017.
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