35 years ago, Keith Haring visited Australia for the first (and only) time to create a mural on Melbourne’s NGV Water Wall.
Without any templates or sketches to rely on, Haring jumped in a cherry picker for two days straight, creating the large scale mural from white, black and red paint. Using his distinct visual style, the American artist painted a crawling baby, a mushroom cloud, a dolphin and a snake, in what would be the first artwork to ever be painted on the NGV Water Wall.
When asked about his mural by local media at the time, Haring said, ‘It’s a series of images about life and things which threaten life. Maybe it’s a kind of play on good and evil, but I prefer people to read it however they want to.’ To pay tribute to the iconic artist’s contribution to the Melbourne art scene, as well as the museum’s upcoming exhibition, Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines, the NGV will be recreating Haring’s 1984 mural on the Water Wall from the 22nd of November.
Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines is set to be a big one, with over 200 artworks from the renowned artists and good friends on show. While Basquiat and Haring explored different themes and socio-political issues in their work, each relied on distinctive iconography that remain instantly recognisable today. When Basquiat died from a heroin overdose in 1988, Haring created moving artwork A Pile of Crowns for Jean-Michel Basquiat for his friend and fellow New Yorker; a heartfelt collision of Haring’s visual style and Basquiat’s crown imagery known the world over. Sadly, Haring would die just two years later from AIDs-related complications. If you’re in Melbourne in the months to come, make sure to drop by the NGV and check the exhibition out—you’ll be kicking yourself if you miss this one.
The NGV’s tribute to Keith Haring will be on display at NGV International from 22 November 2019 – 13 April 2020.