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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Keith Haring at BAM

Bill T. Jones dancing in Secret Pastures. Photo: Tom Caravaglia

Hey young artist! Have you ever wondered how you can make your work stand out from the crowd of talented competitors? Maybe you should look at how Keith Haring did it. In the early 1980s, Haring created quite a buzz when he started drawing chalk figures on the empty black spaces where expired subway ads were hidden. Of course, he was fined many times for defacing public property, but his characters soon became iconic. Haring was an inspired artist and master marketer, and his work soon appeared everywhere from posters and buttons to expensive and expansive canvases—and even at BAM.

Keith Haring, courtesy of the BAM Hamm Archives
Keith Haring’s first collaboration with Bill T. Jones involved Haring painting directly on Jones’ body for photographs by Tseng Kwong Chi. Haring created his first set design for the stage at BAM with the world premiere of Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane’s Secret Pastures in November 1984. The sets were easily identifiable as Haring’s distinctive style. He also designed the poster and promo cards and several other pieces for BAM.

Promotional poster by Keith Haring, courtesy of the BAM Hamm Archives

Bill T.Jones' Secret Pastures. Photo: Tom Caravaglia
Keith Haring’s brief (1958—1990) but intense career spanned the 1980s. He was highly sought after to participate in collaborative projects, and worked with artists and performers as diverse as Madonna, Grace Jones, William Burroughs, Timothy Leary, Jenny Holzer, Yoko Ono, and Andy Warhol. By expressing universal concepts of birth, death, love, sex, and war, using a primacy of line and directness of message, Haring was able to attract a wide audience and assure the accessibility and staying power of his imagery, which became a universally recognized visual language of the 20th century. —Louie Fleck, BAM Archives

Keith Haring invitation, courtesy of the BAM Hamm Archives


  1. Thanks for featuring this! Keith first worked with Bill on "Long Distance", a collaborative dance project presented at The Kitchen in 1982.


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