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    Keith Haring: The Political Line Reveals the LGBT Artist’s Activism

    keithmainThe first major Keith Haring show on the West Coast in nearly two decades, Keith Haring: The Political Line reveals the LGBT artist’s activist side. Although Haring (1958–1990) died of AIDS at the age of 31, he created an impressive body of unmistakable work that still resonates. Working across a variety of media, including subway drawings, paintings and sculptures, Haring particularly devoted himself to messages of social justice and change.

    Keith Haring: The Political Line will have its U.S. premiere on November 8 at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Many of the works are on loan from The Keith Haring Foundation, New York, with supplemental loans from public and private collections. Several pieces have not been published or on public view since the artist’s death. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s director Colin B. Bailey notes, “We are particularly pleased to profile Keith Haring’s artwork in San Francisco; we sense that it will appeal to a younger generation who will appreciate his honest and passionate commitment to addressing contemporary issues through art.”

    keithheadThe Political Line is based on and named after guest curator Dieter Buchhart’s exhibition, which was presented at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in the summer of 2013. The de Young exhibition is curated by Dieter Buchhart in collaboration with Julian Cox, founding curator of photography and chief administrative curator at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

    “It is amazing that the question of social justice and change that Keith Haring devoted himself to has not been addressed before in a major exhibition,” says Buchhart. “Haring understood that art was for everybody. He fought for the individual and against dictatorship, racism and capitalism. He was no utopian, but he had a dream that ‘nothing is an end, because it always can be the basis for something new and different.’”

    The Political Line will feature more than 130 works of art, including large-scale paintings (on tarpaulins and canvases), sculptures and a number of the artist’s subway drawings, among other works. The exhibition will create a narrative that explores the artist’s responses to nuclear disarmament, racial inequality, the excesses of capitalism, environmental degradation, and other issues of deep personal concern to the artist.

    In San Francisco, Haring’s work has long been a part of the city’s visual culture, so it is fitting that the show should make its U.S. debut here. Haring created works for diverse venues in San Francisco during his lifetime, including murals for DV8, an underground club once located in the South of Market neighborhood, and a huge, multi-panel painting for the South of Market Childcare Center. Haring’s outdoor sculpture “Untitled (Three Dancing Figures)” (1989), located at Third Street and Howard, is a prominent feature of the Moscone Center; and his triptych altarpiece “The Life of Christ” (1990) is installed in the AIDS Chapel at Grace Cathedral.

    Haring fought tirelessly to end the AIDS epidemic in his work and personal life. He established The Keith Haring Foundation in 1989 and enlisted his imagery during the last years of his life to speak about his own illness and to generate activism and awareness about AIDS. By the time of his death, he had achieved international fame. His influence on his own generation and those that have followed is a testament to his enduring vision.

    For tickets and additional information, please visit

    The San Francisco Bay Times is proud to be a Media Sponsor of Keith Haring: The Political Line, November 8, 2014–February 16, 2015 @ the de Young’s Herbst Exhibition Galleries.