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Reader: Keith Haring Was an Artistic Genius, Not a Five-Year-Old

Morphing figure and wolfman, from the Grace House mural by Keith Haring.
Morphing figure and wolfman, from the Grace House mural by Keith Haring.
Wes Magyar, courtesy MCA Denver
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Keith Haring got his start as a New York graffiti artist, but he soon gained real status in the contemporary art world, creating "familiar and comprehensible images with confident and coherent lines," Michael Paglia notes, that were "charmingly naive and thus viewer-friendly. "

Keith Haring: Grace House Mural, the current exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, focuses on a mural Haring did in the early ’80s, when he was hanging out at a place called the Paradise Garage and met two street-savvy teens who were clients of Grace House, a Catholic center for at-risk youth. Doing charity works such as the Grace House mural was his way of supporting and embracing the community, according to the MCA. They were “less as an egotistical exercise and more natural somehow," Haring said shortly before his death. "I don’t know how to exactly explain it. Taking it off the pedestal. I’m giving it back to the people, I guess.”

Almost forty years later, people shared very different responses to Haring's art in their comments on the Westword Facebook post of Paglia's piece. Says Kyle:

Always the most simple shit that blows people's minds.

Responds Matt:

LOL! What a joke.

Notes Parker: 

He was worth $25 million at the time of his death and his estate still brings in $4 million a year.... · 

Asks Kain: 

Is he five years old?

Counters Patrick: 

No, an artistic genius.

Suggests Robert: 

I guess art is whatever you want it to be. Does this make you feel 5 years old looking at it. I mean that’s not a bad thing. Think about it.

You have plenty of time to see the exhibit and think about Haring's contributions to the art world. In the meantime, you can share your thoughts on a comment or at editorial@westword.com.

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