As an outspoken social rights activist, Keith Haring was not one to shy away from controversy. His Berlin Wall Mural is just that – controversial and provocative. In fact, Haring himself told The New York Times1 that the mural was a “subversive” act that was meant to make a political statement, and help on a psychological level destroy the Berlin Wall.
Keith Haring – Crack 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.
Barry McGee – Detail of mural on Houston and Bowery, New York, 2010
Barry McGee’s tag mural in New York
In August 2010 Barry McGee (aka Twist) and Josh Lazcano (aka Amaze) painted a mural on the iconic corner of Houston & Bowery in New York’s Lower East Side, covering the wall with hundreds of red tags, filling it up with the names and crews of different graffiti writers.
Keith Haring – Untitled (Car), 1986, Enamel on 1963 Buick Special
About Keith Karing
Keith Haring was born in Reading Pennsylvania on May 4, 1958 and grew up in nearby Kutztown, Pennsylvania. His passion for art began at a young age and following high school graduation he enrolled at the Ivy School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh for two semesters.
Keith Haring’s subway art
In the early 1980s Keith Haring created hundreds of drawings in the New York subway system. He used chalk to paint on unused advertising space, which was covered with black sheets of paper. Haring was caught and fined numerous times.