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
Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

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.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.