Sunday, August 31, 2008

Keith Haring v. Banksy: Why what looks cool now looks lame later

It's hard to imagine that Keith Haring was once considered a cutting-edge artist in the same way that Banksy is today. This video doesn't help his case at all, unless the presence of Seinfeld music is ironic.

But it raises the point that the art is significantly less important than the context of the artist. In the 1980's, Keith Haring was famous and sold his work without shame, while Banksy is anonymous and doesn't profit much (though more than most people seem to think). So: will Banksy's anonymity look as cheesy in ten years as Haring's image does today? What might replace it? Will we look like a bunch of whiney, melodramatic mopers, whose restraint and hesitancy prevented us from making work that could withstand the coming decades?

Perhaps the Keith Haring/Banksy continuum in 2020 will involve some third reaction to anonymity and celebrity: the first hive-minded flash mob graffiti artist collective? An Al-Qaeda influenced series of artist cells? A twitter network?

Parts 2 and 3 of the Haring documentary. And, my god, just watching the first :18 of part three will tell you everything you need to know about what went wrong with Haring's work.

Lastly: He's from the same tradition and the same scene, so: Why does Jean-Michel Basquiat still look so damn cool?


online pharmacy said...

I'm completely agree with your point of view, Keith Haring sucks!

Anonymous said...

Indeed. Keith Haring does sucks.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how you could claim that Haring's work sucks unless you have completely missed the point. To make a claim like this you may as well say that the art of Da Vinci, Marcel Duchamp, and Andy Warhol all suck. Great artists respond to and influence the culture of their time; they challenge preconceptions about aspects of their society, and their societies views of what art is, as did all of the above named artist, and Haring, and Banksy. Any artist who can refine their artwork down to just line and still communicate highly complex meaning is a genius. Seek first to understand, then look again.