‘Keith Haring: Radiant Gambit‘ is an exhibition celebrating the life and work of the internationally renowned pop artist Keith Haring, curated by the World Chess Hall of Fame, St Louis MO USA. The show features artwork by Haring as well as exhibits in tribute to him by other artists, who had either known him, worked with or been influenced by him. Keith Haring’s artistic journey began in the 1980s in the New York subway. Using the black-papered, unused advertising panels as his canvasses, he drew many bold drawings in white chalk. He started gaining attention from the public and authorities alike. From these modest beginnings, Haring went on to be an artist revered and recognised the world over.
2020 marks 30 years since Haring’s untimely passing. This exhibition at World Chess Hall of Fame aims to commemorate the artist and to demonstrate how others are inspired by him and are continuing his legacy. We were thrilled that four Purling London Art Chesssets were selected for this special exhibition:As a young teenager, Angel Ortiz, AKA LA2, became close friends with Keith Haring and worked together with him as an artistic collaborator. His ‘Fire & Ice’ Purling Art Chess set was created especially for the show. Whilst maintaining his own unique artistic identity, LA2 pays homage to Haring:“I just love colors, and Keith loved colors too…I love the rich blend of gold and black…I wanted a good drip, therefore, with a thick white marker, I did a nice heavy tag. And then let it all drip. I knew it’d pop out. I want the chess pieces to be beautiful, so whoever plays chess with it can also enjoy my creation. I always think of Keith. I thank him for seeing something different in my tags…” (LA2)
Keith Haring used his art to reach out to people, to involve and to engage with the public as well as to bring the joy of art to others. Throughout his career he ran art workshops, organised collaborative artistic projects involving children. He also created many commissions to raise funds for charities, hospitals, orphanages and other worthy causes.Haring used his art as a means of expressing the essence of life. He also saw it as a way to communicate social messages and to tackle and raise awareness of important issues. In particular, Haring felt a great urge to educate and to raise awareness of AIDS, something with which sadly, he was diagnosed at a tragically young age.Following his diagnosis, he set up the Keith Haring Foundation, in order to raise awareness of AIDS and to provide funding and support to AIDS organisations. The Foundation also supports children’s programmes and still continues today.
In the autumn of 1986 Thierry Noir met Keith Haring in Berlin. On American Independence Day, in order to mark 100 years since the founding of the Statue of Liberty, Thierry Noir and Christophe Bouchet had painted a series of images of the iconic structure on the Berlin Wall near Checkpoint Charlie. A few months later, Keith Haring came to Berlin to paint on the Wall…“On October 23, 1986…I heard on the radio that Keith Haring was in Berlin to paint the Wall at Checkpoint Charlie. I went there and I saw that my statues were all gone…I talked with Keith about this, and he was embarrassed and apologised to me. He said that ‘in New York you can get killed for that’. He was invited over for just a couple of days and the section of Wall had been prepared for him with a yellow base that went over the statues that I had painted…I was angry but it was not his fault. Keith was a great guy and a great artist.” (Thierry Noir)
Sickboy is leading artist to emerge from Bristol’s infamous graffiti scene and is one of the first UK artists to use a logo (his Temple logo) in place of a tag. He cites Haring as a major influence on his art:“Keith Haring has been a huge inspiration. I feel that acknowledging and honoring early train painting graffiti in New York, which was largely part of the black and Latino culture, inadvertently led him to create what became the embryonic stages of street art culture. His ability to transform his imagery into a visual language that attracted many and grew in popularity was a huge inspiration to my own street art style. Without a doubt, my early ‘LOGOPOP’ shows in London and the painting of my ‘Temple’ logo on the streets around the world were conceptually springboarded by Keith Haring’s pop iconography.” (Sickboy)
Darren John is a London-based artist known for his bold, visceral paintings that explore and celebrate the untamed creative spirit. John’s work embraces the bright colors and forms of childhood creativity—vibrant imagery that is universally recognizable and impossible to ignore. He explains how he is influenced by Haring:“I remember having seen Keith Haring’s work long before knowing much about it. Visually, I was an instant fan…It wasn’t until much later…that I felt a really special bond with his output. Keith’s passion towards making art accessible…is so inspiring for me…I often like to think that great artists from history who are no longer with us in body, are very much with us in spirit. When an artist’s output comes from a true reflection of their being, they can empower many others to continue to fly the flag for the same values and ideas.” (Darren John)
‘Keith Haring: Radiant Gambit’
Exhibition dates: November 19th 2020 – May 16th 2021.For more about the exhibition visit: World Chess Hall of Fame.World Chess Hall of Fame, 4652 Maryland Avenue, Saint Louis, MO 63108, USA+1 (314) 367-WCHF (9243) worldchesshof.org
Learn about other World Chess Hall of Fame exhibitions with Purling, including ‘Ladies’ Knight’ and ‘Painted Pieces’.