You've inevitably seen Keith Haring's vibrant stick figures on keychains, coffee mugs, T-shirts and tote bags. It would be easy to dismiss the late muralist's Warhol-like merchandising saturation as selling out, but the truth is Haring's politically aware chalk works were always in search of as many widespread mediums as possible.
The Petersen Automotive Museum is presenting an entire exhibition of arguably the most unusual of those mediums: cars. Beginning December 17, The Unconventional Canvases of Keith Haring will put five cars on display that Haring had painted or marked up in his signature style.
Haring decorated all of the vehicles on display between 1983 and 1990, including four cars—1963 Buick Special, 1971 Land Rover Series III, 1990 BMW Z1 and a 1962 SCAF/Mortarini Mini Ferrari 330 P2 Motorized Child’s Automobile—and one motorcycle—1987 Honda CBR1000F Hurricane.
One of the cars, the 1971 Land Rover, already made its debut at the museum this past summer. But the exhibition will mark the first time that a number of Haring's cars have been on display at once.
The pieces were all created over a series of artist-in-residencies at the Montreux Jazz Fest and the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race, as well as promotional events for the Fast Art Gallery in New Jersey and Galerie Hans Mayer in Düsseldorf. In addition, a collection of two- and three-dimensional Haring works will complement the art cars.
Haring's playful designs may look perfectly innocent, but his most iconic designs often confronted social issues that dominated the late '80s: Apartheid, AIDS and crack.
The Unconventional Canvases of Keith Haring opens December 17 at the Petersen Automotive Museum, with an opening reception and preview on December 15 ($35).
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