Keith Haring: The Political Line | Keith Haring Art

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September 30, 2014
Keith Haring: The Political Line at the de Young Museum

Keith Haring: The Political Line

The Keith Haring: The Political Line exhibit has ended. Please visit the de Young Museum for current exhibitions.

Keith Haring: The Political Line, on view November 8, 2014–February 16, 2015 at the de Young Museum, examines the political themes in the art of Keith Haring (American, 1958–1990), an icon whose bold Pop style and prodigious output brought him global recognition. Through his graffiti-inspired drawings, paintings, sculptures, and murals, Keith Haring created an immediately recognizable iconography that speaks to a diverse population. Making its US premiere at the de Young, Keith Haring: The Political Line is the first major showing of the artist’s work in California in nearly two decades. This presentation adds gravitas to the artist’s career by focusing on his political concerns through a visually arresting selection of more than 130 works of art that trace his development and historical significance as an advocate for social justice. Several of the works have not been published or on public view since Haring’s death, in 1990.

Haring created a vivid vocabulary of hand-drawn symbols, such as zapping spaceships and barking dogs, to engage viewers and raise provocative contemporary issues. His signature style, which consists of puzzlelike constructions, fuses sources as diverse as Disney, Warhol, and the “cut-up” collage techniques of the Beat artist Brion Gysin and writer William S. Burroughs. Haring was protean in his interests, collating and processing ideas from a variety of influences and seamlessly weaving them into his artistic idiom. He stated: “I paint images that are derivative of my personal exploration. I leave it up to others to decipher them, to understand their symbolism and implications. I am merely the middle man.”

Exuberant, profane, witty, and provocative, the works in this exhibition, including subway drawings, paintings on tarpaulin and canvas, sculptures, collages, graphic works, and other objects, reveal the political dimension of Keith Haring’s artistic concerns. Together they create a narrative that explores Haring’s responses to nuclear proliferation, racial inequality, capitalist excess, environmental degradation, and other prevalent issues. Haring also cared deeply about the fights against drug addiction and the AIDS epidemic. He was one of the most political artists of his time, although he never saw his art as advocacy: “I don’t think art is propaganda; it should be something that liberates the soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further. It celebrates humanity instead of manipulating it.” By the time of his death, at the age of thirty-one, Haring had achieved international fame. Although his career was brief, his influence on his own generation and those that have followed is a testament to his enduring vision.


de Young Museum
Golden Gate Park
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
San Francisco, CA 94118

Hours: Tuesdays–Sundays, 9:30 am–5:15 pm, last ticket 4:30 pm; Fridays (March 28–November 28, 2014) 9:30 am–8:45 pm, last ticket 8 pm. Closed Mondays, except select holidays. Check website for details. Museum Store is open during museum hours. Museum Café is open Tuesdays–Sundays, 9:30 am–4:30 pm; Fridays (March 28–November 28, 2014) 9:30 am–8:15 pm.\


Premium $41–46; Adults $26–29; Seniors (65 and over) $23–26; Students with current ID $22–25, Youths 6–17 $16–19. Members and children 5 and under are free.

Prices subject to change without notice. Save $1 per ticket with advance online purchase. Ticket includes same-day general admission to the Legion of Honor. Last ticket sold one hour prior to museum close.

Tickets can be purchased on site and online at

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