Keith Haring made his name in the early 1980s when he took his chalk to the unsold advertising marquees dotting the walls of New York City subway stops. Haring saw the ‘Subway Drawings’ – schematic, hit-and-run line drawings, populated by his signature cartoon-like emblems, including the ‘radiant child’ that became his logo – as a way of circumventing the usual channels of the gallery and the museum to bring art into the daily lives of the city’s commuters. As he became a major figure on the downtown art scene, Haring forged a close friendship with Warhol, and the two artists collaborated and exchanged works.
In 1986, Haring opened his Pop Shop in New York, offering a range of merchandise branded with his distinct visual style. The walls, floor and ceiling were covered with Haring’s graffiti, and the goods on sale changed hands to the accompaniment of a continuous rap soundtrack. Like his subway drawings, Haring saw the Pop Shop as a way of accessing the public directly. Art, typically out of reach to the average consumer, was packaged in the form of affordable commodities. Haring embraced merchandising as a medium. ‘I knew I would be attacked’, he said of the critical dangers inherent in crossing the line between art and commerce. However, he recalled that Warhol was ‘a big supporter of the Pop Shop’. Indeed, for Haring, Warhol ‘was the only figure that represented any real forerunner of the attitude about making art in a more public way and dealing with art as part of the real world’.
This installation of Pop Shop is selling facsimiles of original Haring editions.