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Pop Talk


A new exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum probes Keith Haring’s early artwork


Keith Haring's repetitive Pop hieroglyphics--crawling baby, flying saucer, yelping dog, complete with radiating lines--have been incorporated into posters and fashion so thoroughly that they may appear sapped of their intended cultural significance, his formidable talent tossed off as fodder for the masses.

The exhibit Keith Haring: 1978-1982 at the Brooklyn Museum repairs that misconception by offering insight into the artist's early career with a focus on his graffiti improvisations in New York City's subways, party flyers, videos, and extensive journaling.

"He was so earnest and interested in direct communication with the public, which was an important aspect of his art-making," explains Tricia Laughlin Bloom, the exhibit project curator. "The journals reveal him working out semiotics; he's playing with language. It comes out in the show in ways you don't see in his later work."

Composed of video pieces (one documenting Klaus Nomi singing, another of Haring painting to the band Devo), and hundreds of rare archival objects, along with large scroll pieces that show Haring's curiosity with Abstract Expressionism, the exhibit is sure to shine a new light on his search for a primordial language that tried to bring art and the city together. n

Keith Haring: 1978-1982 runs from March 16-July 8 at the Brooklyn Museum in New York.

SLIDESHOW: View images from the exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum.

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