The Italian Almanac

Haring's painting

Italian News / Art - October 3

A major exhibition devoted to the brilliant, but tragically brief, career of American street artist Keith Haring opened at Milan's Triennale museum this week. The Keith Haring Show gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy the colour, simplicity and energy of his art, with a collection of around 100 paintings, 40 drawings and a multitude of sculptures and works in other forms.

Organizers claim it is "one of the most important retrospectives ever dedicated to the great American artist." The exhibition starts with several of the 'subway drawings' that brought the anonymous graffiti artist to the public's attention between 1980 and 1985. These were quickly executed, ephemeral drawings in chalk on temporarily blank advertising bill-boards on the New York metro.

They feature Haring's distinctive cartoon-like figures, often with heads of animals or objects. The drawings' appeal derives from their accessible yet surreal and thought-provoking nature, as befits the output of someone who believed "art should be everywhere and for everyone", not shut away in galleries for an elite.

Indeed many of the pieces on show, including paintings produced later, were left untitled - there was no need to give the works a tag, he said, when they speak eloquently for themselves. Some of the pictures are as much as 10 metres wide. Among these is the painting of a multi-limbed, multicoloured crowd he did as the backdrop for the Palladium - the New York night spot at the centre of the alternative art scene that inspired him so profoundly.