As major figures of the American 20th century contemporary art scene, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat crossed paths more than once. Both based in New York in the 1980s, these artists articulated their work around various themes linked to their own identity – one was black, the other was gay, both experienced discrimination accordingly. Their art dealt also with themes such as the critique of capitalism, apartheid, AIDS and climate change. In addition, both died prematurely: Jean-Michel Basquiat was 28 when he passed away in 1988 after an overdose, while Keith Haring died of AIDS two years later, aged 31. As friends, collaborators and rivals, the artists have never, up until recently, been shown together in the same exhibition, despite the many connections between their respective works.
Opened last December, the ambitious show Keith Haring I Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, wanted to pay tribute to two American artists through a double profile. By studying their incomparable styles, the museum is opening a wider reflection on the shared artistic circles in which Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat both evolved, that included the likes of Andy Warhol, Madonna and Grace Jones. The exhibition features some 200 works by Keith Haring and his friend Jean-Michel Basquiat, including video installations, sculptures, as well as a corridor of Polaroids taken by the French photographer and stylist Maripol.
Following the confinement measures taken around the world, the National Gallery of Victoria has been forced, like every other museum, to close its doors. Thankfully the exhibition, which was supposed to end on April 13th has found a new home on the Internet. In fact, it is now possible to visit Keith Haring I Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines online and free of charge with an interactive 3D visit.
Keith Haring I Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines, available on the National Gallery of Victoria’s website.