Tag Archives: Brooklyn Museum

ART Critique Exhibitions Martha King

Keith Haring exhibit in Brooklyn



Keith Haring (American, 1958–1990) Untitled, 1982. Sumi ink on paper. 107 x 208 in. (271.8 x 528.3 cm) Collection Keith Haring Foundation. © Keith Haring Foundation


The Keith Haring show now up at The Brooklyn Museum seems almost exclusively to be works from the Keith Haring Foundation. Which I take to mean both not sold and not for sale.  I haven’t a clue who runs the foundation or why – but this ownership may also mean that these works haven’t been seen that often.

It doesn’t matter. You’ve seen Keith Haring already. Nothing has changed since I first saw those white chalk on black underpaper drawings in subway advertising niches back in the day.  Boy, someone went to art shool, I thought.  And how smart to know the chalk would be hard to erase.

Silly me. He or his friends took some pretty good photos it seems. Some are in this show. Including some that show hilarious counterpoint to the commercial ads on the left or the right.  And some enterprising soul (Haring himself?) carefully knifed them off the wall as well. Some of these are in this show.

Clearly Haring worked like a freight train…  There must be thousands of Haring drawings and paintings well beyond the ones in this large exhibition. He worked hard, this show shows, to develop a shorthand language that he could unleash anywhere any how.  You know them. The crawling baby. The jumping man. The barking dog.


Flyer for Des Refusés at Westbeth Painters Space, New York City, February 10, 1981. Acrylic and ink on paper. Collection Keith Haring Foundation. © Keith Haring Foundation

Some of the earliest works, before he developed his repertory, reveal a monstrously talented kid who simply loved being engaged in the doing of it. Hooked on, lost in, floating on the alpha waves. Thus the set pieces.He figured out a way to make that flow state instantly available to him always.

The remarkable thing is his utter affability, his likeability. Geeze what sweetheart – even when his subject matter is torture or pain – and there are some images with terrifying implications – or self mocking, or when it’s jubilant pornography.  Even when his scale is gigantic like “Matrix” ink on paper, 1983  — is it 50 feet long? — and demanding of one’s time in order to allow the images to roil and romp and resolve themselves.  He’s always affable.

And happiness is such an unnatural state.

Show’s on until July 8.   Go.  Enjoy.

ART Critique Exhibitions Martha King

Eva Hesse at the Brooklyn Museum

Eva Hesse: 1936–1970  Her life time.

No title, 1960. Oil on masonite, 15 3/4 x 12 in. c. the Estate of Eva Hesse, courtesy of Hauser & Wirth

The paintings currently on view at Brooklyn Museum – from now until January 6 – were done in just part of one year. They are the last paintings she ever made.  She then went to Germany and entered sculpture, clearly empowered, enbolded, interested, propelled in some major way by the discovery trip she had hurtled through in making these works.

All of them swing from the abstract to the figure, from the figure to the abstract;  all are autobiographical, political, confessional, confrontational.  All address the questions we also asked when young and may still be asking.  Why am I here? Why is this important? How can I move?

It’s sort of boring to note “her debt to deKooning” – how could she not in 1960 and what difference does it make other than speaking to the fact that she was alive in that world.


1960. Oil on canvas, 36 x 36 in. from The Rachofsky Collection, c. Eva Hesse

A few of these may have been seen before.  Most have never been. There’s a whole long gallery of them at the Brooklyn Museum — and a catalog too.

There was one show in 2008 at a Chelsea gallery, the Andrea Rosen, which showed deKooning, Luio Fontana and Eva Hesse paintings together.  The press materials don’t name a curator, so the exhibit may have been assembled by Rosen herself.  Helen Molesworth contributed an essay, “Don’t Look Back: Eva Hesse’s Early Work” maintaining “her concerns remained constant” following her aesthetic break (in or out) to sculptural works. (http://www.andrearosengallery.com/exhibitions/2008_10_willem-de-kooninglucio-fontanaeva-hesse/?view=pressrelease )

I’m not so sure.  The plunge back into painful Europe and the raw industrial environment she landed in as studio space may have worked its own demand: Use this or die. She was ever an artist concerned with survival. And of course by hideous irony, the sculptural materials she then used, all those liquid plastics, are likely to have sparked the brain cancer that killed her.

Is it hard-hearted of me?  That’s not what’s interesting about her work! Early death. Irony.  No – it’s the intensity of her belief, her willingness to go forward, the delight even the most violent of her images contain which she offers so generously to us!

c. Eva Hesse / Oil on canvas / 49.5 x 49.5 inches / Andrea Rosen Gallery

It’s a “don’t miss” in Brooklyn this fall!