December 22, 2016

Keith Haring Cars a Draw at the Petersen Automotive Museum

Keith Haring was the epitome of New York’s graffiti-inspired 1980’s art scene. But it’s his work on automobiles—not subway platforms—that is the focus of a new exhibit at Los Angeles’s Petersen Automotive Museum.

Running through June 4 at the foremost proponent of Southern Californian car culture, The Unconventional Canvases of Keith Haring is the first time that the five works have been shown together. “From our perspective, the fact that he was interested in a variety of different surfaces, and worked freehand with incredible spacialization, was the major appeal,” says Terry Karges, the museum’s executive director. “He would just sit down and start ripping.”

The exhibition includes a 1963 Buick Special, the 191 Land Rover Series III 109 station wagon he created during the 1983 Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, and a 1962 SCAF/Mortarini mini Ferrari 33 P-2 completed during France’s 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1984. “Keith’s style was so unique because it wasn’t interested in traditional forms,” Karges adds. “He wanted to work with what the average person could see during a routine day. And there was just a joy to the art.”

The final piece in the exhibit, a BMW for the Galerie Hans Mayer in Düsseldorf, Germany, was painted in 1990, the same year Haring died of AIDS at age 31.

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