Archive: Harlem
From illegal to protected: Keith Haring’s ‘Crack is Wack’ mural

From illegal to protected: Keith Haring’s ‘Crack is Wack’ mural

Keith Haring - Crack is Wack, 1986
Keith HaringCrack is Wack, 1986, handball court at 128th Street and 2nd Avenue, New York

The story behind ‘Crack is Wack’

Keith Haring came up with his celebrated Crack Is Wack mural in 1986, at a deserted handball court located along the Harlem River Drive. The images of his double-sided mural were taken by a photographer known as Juan Rivera. Of course, since the mural was created in 1986, the spot at Harlem River Drive has since been repainted and buffed after the original mural was vandalized.

Like many other street artists of the time, Haring chose a spot that had the largest potential for visibility. The wall was the perfect spot because it had the appearance of a large billboard; like some of the ones that you would typically see on a busy highway.

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