Fashion and Design


On the streets of 1980s New York at the NGV.

10 December 2019

The National Gallery of Victoria’s (NGV) summer exhibition shines a spotlight on the artistic friendship between two great contemporary artists, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, who drew their inspiration from the streets of the Big Apple.

Fashion and Design


On the streets of 1980s New York at the NGV.

10 December 2019

The National Gallery of Victoria’s (NGV) summer exhibition shines a spotlight on the artistic friendship between two great contemporary artists, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, who drew their inspiration from the streets of the Big Apple.

Installation view of Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines at NGV International

Installation view of Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines at NGV International, 1 December 2019 – 13 April 2020 © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York © Keith Haring Foundation. Photo: Tom Ross.
 

Those who adore both art and popular contemporary culture are in for a treat this summer at the NGV’s exclusive premier exhibition of Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines, with Mercedes-Benz as principal partner.

The exhibition, a world exclusive to Melbourne, presents the work of two of the most influential artists of the late 20th century. The large-scale event (from 1 December 2019 to 13 April 2020) explores both artists’ visual languages and the many intersections between their lives during their prolific years living and working in New York City.

At the media preview of the exhibition, Mercedes-Benz CEO & Managing Director Horst von Sanden noted that the two artists have influenced other creatives and audiences around the world for the past three decades. “Changing society doesn’t happen overnight. It takes vision and ambition,” he said. Von Sanden went on to highlight how the Mercedes-Benz strategy is grounded on ambitions for a new carbon-neutral car fleet by 2039.  

Installation view of Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines at NGV International

Installation view of Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines at NGV International, 1 December 2019 – 13 April 2020 © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York © Keith Haring Foundation. Photo: Tom Ross.

Tony Ellwood, director of the NGV, pointed to the influence of the streets and contemporary 1980s culture on Haring and Basquiat. He explored how Basquiat’s work makes statements on race, consumerism and politics, while Haring examines the democratisation of art, race and social justice. “They shared an interest in language and society,” said Ellwood.

Both artists were also influenced by technology, and the New York pop culture and music scene. For instance, they embraced the then-revolutionary technology of the Xerox photocopying machine for collages. They were also both regulars in the city’s nightclub scene, an aspect that is explored via a room dedicated to polaroid images of the artists and their contemporaries, including the likes of pop music artists Madonna and Debbie Harry, in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  

Installation view of Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines at NGV International

Installation view of Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines at NGV International, 1 December 2019 – 13 April 2020 © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York © Keith Haring Foundation. Photo: Tom Ross.

In addition to large-scale works, the exhibition features Basquiat’s notebooks and Haring’s journals. These offer a unique insight into each of their approaches and how language and words influenced their works.

Visit Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines (1 December 2019 to 13 April 2020) and enter the competition to win an exclusive luxury weekend on the Bellarine Peninsula in the dynamic Mercedes-Benz GLE.

By Lucy Siebert