The year before his death in 1990, Keith Haring said "If you‘re not interested in being a part of the system, then you shouldn’t care that you’re being ignored by the museums and the curators! Well, I really do believe that it will all happen later― the acceptance. It’s going to happen when I’m not here to appreciate it.” Twenty four years later it has come to pass.
Today any survey of the Pop Art genre is incomplete without at least a nod in his direction. And so it is with the Art Gallery of NSW’s latest hoped for block buster Pop to Popism. In amongst the Warhol’s and the Lichtenstein’s is a 1982 untitled painting on loan from the University of Sydney.
During his short career Haring had fractious relationship with the formal art world. As he said in a Rolling Stone interview with David Sheff “As an art student and being sort of in the underground and having very precise and cynical ideas about the art world, the traditional art-dealer gallery represented a lot that I hated about the art world.”
His decision to open a retail shop for his work in New York’s Soho district in 1986 drew criticism from many in the art world. Haring defended the low cost outlet saying “My work was starting to become more expensive and more popular within the art marker. Those prices meant that only people who could afford big art prices could have access to the work. The Pop Shop makes it accessible.”
In 2007 the first Private Museum dedicated to Haring's work, Nakamura Keith Haring Collection Museum, opened in Japan’s Yatsugatake Mountains. The museum’s current exhibition Chaos to Hope: Keith Haring in the Nakamura Collection juxtaposes Haring's work with Japanese street artists.
It is, perhaps, on the other side of the Pacific that a deeper perspective of Haring's work can be found. On the 8th of November San Francisco's de Young Museum will open The Political Line, an exhibition that explores Haring's political activism which underscored and motivated much of his work.