Keith Haring Foundation, Inc.

Keith Haring’s ‘Crack is Wack': NYC’s Most Famous Mural? by Matthew Israel, Director of The Art Genome Project, Artsy

In KHF archives, Pop Culture, Press, Uncategorized on August 21, 2014 at 10:59 am

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Crack is Wack is arguably Keith Haring‘s best-known work. It might also be the most famous mural in New York City. For one, it probably has more daily views than any other mural in NYC, due to its location next to passing cars on the Harlem River Drive (in Manhattan at 128th Street).

How Crack is Wack came to be is not well-known. Nor is the fact that the mural is not the original version.

Benny was one of the major catalysts for Crack is Wack. Benny was Haring’s young, gifted studio assistant in the mid-1980s who became addicted to crack. Haring and the rest of his studio were close with him and they tried everything to help him kick his addiction. This was, according to Haring, an incredibly distressing experience for everyone involved. Benny had no health insurance, so they initially called cocaine hotlines and Benny started to see a counselor, but that didn’t work. Haring’s studio also went to emergency rooms to try to get him into a guided program, but no hospital would take him.

Off the Wall: Keith Haring and the Kids By Analú Maria López

In Childhood, Pop Culture, Press, Public Events, Uncategorized on July 9, 2014 at 11:05 am

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Keith Haring and CPS students working on Untitled, 1989 © Keith Haring Foundation

In 2009, when I was an intern at the MCA, I came across an image of Keith Haring in the museum’s photo archives. It was a low-resolution 35 mm scan of the artist painting an outdoor mural, with the Chicago lakefront visible in the background. Excited by what this could be, I started researching potential collaborations between Haring and the MCA. Amazingly, I was able to locate three rolls of black-and-white negatives of this project, which was a collaboration between Chicago Public Schools and the MCA, in the museum’s archives.

One Thing that Keith Haring, Wynton Marsalis, and Paloma Picasso Have in Common

In Childhood, Gifts/Grants, Uncategorized on May 22, 2014 at 12:11 pm
Keith Haring with students, 1989. Learning Through Art records. A0015. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Archives, New York, NY.

Keith Haring with students, 1989. Learning Through Art records. A0015. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Archives, New York, NY.

These photographs show Keith Haring, Wynton Marsalis, and Paloma Picasso and Robert Rauschenberg working with students who were taking part in the Guggenheim’s Learning Through Art (LTA) program. Founded in 1970, LTA cultivates student creativity by designing sustained, process-oriented art projects that support learning across the curriculum. Since 2009, LTA has placed teaching artists in school residencies for periods of eight to twenty-two weeks, allowing students to examine, discuss, and create works of art.

The program also introduced students to working artists. In 1989, students were welcomed to Keith Haring’s downtown studio loft as part of “Art Alive Artist Studio Visit.” Haring bonded with students by talking candidly about his work and showing paintings in progress. In 1991, students were treated to a surprise visit by Wynton Marsalis who embraced the “chance to show children that discipline and study is part of what makes great art.” Other guest teachers throughout the years have included Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Paloma Picasso, and Robert Rauschenberg.


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