Gallery 98

Art Ephemera 1963 – 2001

Keith Haring Ephemera, 1979 -1990

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By Marc H. Miller

e•phem•er•a (noun) things that are important or useful for only a short time; items that were not meant to have lasting value; items of collectible memorabilia, typically written or printed ones, that were originally expected to have only short-term usefulness or popularity.

For Keith Haring the line separating fine art and ephemera was thin. His meteoritic career was marked by an unrelenting succession of works cutting across every medium and category of art, but his approach to making art was remarkably consistent whether he was making a large outdoor mural, a commercial illustration or a small invitation to an event. His works favor spontaneity, and utilize an ever-evolving personal repertory of symbols, lines and shapes. This online exhibition spotlights his exhibition posters, invitation cards, promotional giveaways, and designs for record covers. Although these items were all intended for transitory purposes, they retain ongoing interest not only as markers of important events in Haring’s life, but also as aesthetic objects in their own right.

The art world that Haring entered in the late 1970s and early 1980s was unusually conducive to the emergence of ephemera as a treasured art form. Young artists who arrived in New York and found that the established galleries were closed to them had to find alternative ways to establish themselves and make a living through their art. Some turned to the street and subways where art competed with advertising and was vulnerable to destruction; and others participated in nightclub exhibitions intermixing art with music and performance that became a form of popular entertainment. Without access to wealthy collectors, artists welcomed commercial assignments and were ready to make low-priced multiples for popular consumption. All of this was reinforced by the post-pop aesthetic of the time, an environment sympathetic to populism and vernacular formats and images. Haring’s innate ability to communicate with people, his unselfconscious and rapid art making, and his affable social nature allowed him to excel in all the new venues. Open to new ideas and generous, Haring was always ready to design an invitation, provide a cover for a record or a poster for a worthy cause, and create free giveaways or inexpensive multiples for his broad base of fans.

EXHIBITION HIGHLIGHTS: Haring’s very first publication embellished with an original crawling baby drawing on the back cover (1981); an invitation to the nightclub Palladium printed on gym shorts for Keith’s Third Annual Party for Life celebrating his birthday (1986); a poster for Haring’s exhibition at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery (1983) with Tseng Kwong Chi’s photo of dancer Bill T. Jones body-painted by Haring; the record album A Diamond Hidden in the Mouth of a Corpse featuring drawings by Haring on the cover, inside the gatefold, and on the inner paper sleeve (1985).

 

Exhibition Items

(Please click individual items for price and full description)

LLBB postcard

Paradise Garage, Keith Haring, Birthday Party for DJ Larry Levan, 1986

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Sheet of Keith Haring work

Haring Handout From The Time of His Westbeth Exhibition, 1981

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First Edition Of Haring’s First Book; Contains An Original Drawing, 1981

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Keith Haring card

Birthday Party for Juan Dubose at Area, 1982

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Fun Gallery invite illustrated by Keith Haring

Fun Gallery, Keith Haring, Card, 1983

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Fun Gallery, Keith Haring, Poster, 1983

Keith haring postcard with Bill T Joens

Keith Haring at Tony Shafrazi Gallery, 1983

Front of Keith haring poster

Keith Haring at Tony Shafrazi Gallery, 1983

Keith Haring Shafrazi poster

Tony Shafrazi Gallery, Keith Haring: Into 84, Poster, 1983

Tony Shafrazi Gallery, Keith Haring, Poster, 1988

Closeup of shorts illustrated by Keith Harinf

Palladium, “Keith Haring’s Third Annual Party of Life”, Shorts, 1986

white t-shirt designed by Keith Haring with a winged tv on the front

Keith Haring, The Comic Art Show T-Shirt, Whitney Museum – Downtown Branch, 1983

Plastic Bag - Shopping Bag from Haring’s “Pop Shop,”

Shopping Bag from Haring’s “Pop Shop,” 1985

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poster for Keith Haring Pop Shop

Combination Poster / Catalog for Haring’s “Pop Shop,” 1988

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Keith Haring, Crawling Baby, Pinback, 1986

Keith Haring, David Bowie’s Without You, 45rpm Vinyl Record, 1983

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Keith Haring, Malcolm McLaren, Duck Rock, 45rpm Vinyl Record, 1983

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Keith Haring, Sylvester, Someone Like You, 33rpm Vinyl Maxi-Single, 1986

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Keith Haring, Emanon, The Baby Beat Box, 33rpm Vinyl Record, 1986

Keith Haring, BIPO, “Life is Fresh, Crack is Whack,” 33rpm Vinyl Record, 1987

Keith Haring, William Burroughs, Various Artists, A Diamond Hidden in the Mouth of a Corpse LP, 1985

keith haring card

“Dance On The Lower East Side,” 1983

Book Country Keith Haring poster

“New York Is Book Country,” 1985

New Music cover by Keith Haring

“New Music Distribution Service” Catalog, 1986

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Photo of Keith Haring and William S Burroughs

Keith Haring & William S. Burroughs at Charles Lucien Gallery, 1990