Keith Haring. About art
In 2017, Stellar International Art Foundation participated in the seminal retrospective “Keith Haring. About art” at Palazzo Reale. The exhibition featured some 110 works, some of which had been unpublished or never exhibited in Italy.
Stellar’s previously unseen 1986 ‘Untitled’ piece an interpretation of an African mask, sat alongside the work of Jackson Pollock, Jean Dubuffet, melded with paintings from the Italian Renaissance, and more, whom Haring was inspired by and reinterpreted with his own unique style in a narrative summary of archetypes of the classical tradition, tribal art, ethnographic art, Gothic or imaginary cartoonism, the language of his time, and also fantasies of the future with the use of computers in some of his later experiments.
The show centred around an important new hypothesis: retrospective analyzation of Haring’s work is incorrect if it does not consider the art history that Haring understood and placed at the centre of his work, assimilating it until it was explicitly integrated it in his paintings and building in this way the most significant part of his aesthetic research.
Keith Haring was one of the most important artists of the second half of the twentieth century; his art is perceived as an expression of a counterculture socially and politically engaged on its themes of his and our time: drugs, racism, Aids, nuclear threat, youth alienation, discrimination against minorities, arrogance of power. Haring truly participated in this collective feeling, and thereby became a global icon for art-activism.
Of the piece exhibited by Stellar, Haring had commented during his 1987 interview with Melissa Biggs and Jonathan Wright:
“They are not primitive. I’m not trying to exploit the ideas of primitive peoples or the things that were important to them, their culture or their spirit was a much more natural thing. It was the work itself that led us to look at those things … quite a few of the early modernists, like Picasso, Brâncuşi and Braque, started collecting African masks and discovering all those things. To me it seems more an appropriation than to give something to the work itself”.
This provides context for the piece within the artist’s body of work but also within the framework of the piece within Stellar’s own collection.