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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: December 11, 2004
Latest Update: December 11, 2004

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As the art market soars once again the possibility of collecting major art in the original is becoming further and further beyond the reach of ordinary folks. This makes it all the more important that we not allow the dominant discourse to usurp the world of fine art as belonging only to wealth and prestige, which, in the corporate world, it pretty much does.

During the next nine months, as I take off some much-needed time to (1) clean away the wreckage of my housekeeping efforts, minimal as they were, and (2) return to my own art work, crammed with all the inspiration you gave me this Fall, I find myself lusting to visit New York and some of the shows there. Well, first we'll finish up learning records and the virtual exhibit, but the New York Times is tempting me. On Friday, December 10, 2004, Roberta Smith published "Looking Back at the Flurry on the Far Side" at p. B31. Backup.

Keith Haring, untitled, from NY Times article by Roberta Smith, December 10, 2004. Untitled. (c) Estate of Keith Haring

An untitled 1982 painting by Keith Haring in "East Village USA" at the New Museum.This work, in the East Village U.S.A. show, is typical of Keith Haring's work, which he frequently painted on the walls of the subways of New York, because he wanted art to be free, to be accessible to all. So as art privatization soars again, it's a good time to remember Keith Haring's work. The New Museum of Contemporary Art is offering this show.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Keith Haring was a well-trained and very talented artist. But look at one of the examples of his work, above, contained in East Village USA. The dog is drawn with a rough outline. Motion is shown with curved lines; sound with rays of lines. And the ever-present baby in Keith Haring's work is also drawn only in rough outline. In addition the artist uses splattered dots and wavy lines to add interest to the composition. He even lets the dog's front right paw stretch off the plane of the canvas. Can you translate this into an illocutionary understanding of the role that Keith Haring saw for art in lived reality?

  2. Maybe you've always said, "I can't draw." We know there's action and sound in this piece by Haring. Suppose he wanted to convey the joy of dogs and children romping together. What a simple way to do so. Could you vary the colors and the decorative marks to suit your own artistic feelings? Could you learn by experimenting with the way Keith Haring drew? Just because you're not artistically trained doesn't mean you can't improve on stick figures bit by bit as you observe what professional artists do. Maybe you can't buy a Keith Haring. But could you make a delightful piece to frame for your child's room, once you make yourself familiar with his work? Or could you and your child work together on making your version of a message about dogs and children? Isn't that really one of the major functions of fine art, to help us translate into understanding the feelings that Keith Haring was expressing?

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