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Archive for the tag “Keith Haring”

More Grace Jones: “I’m Not Perfect” (1986)

Pretty much everything Grace Jones has done has been innovative or outrageous or both. (See previous post). One pivotal moment in Grace’s career — and my personal favorite as an enthusiast of modern art — was the 1986 video for the song “I’m Not Perfect (But I’m Perfect For You”) in which Grace is wearing a costume created on the spot by the late painter Keith Haring.

Here’s the video. Look for cameo “testimonials” from several of Grace’s New York art and music pals including Andy Warhol and Nile Rogers, as well as an appearance by the late fashion designer Tina Chow (as Grace’s “esthetician”):

I wonder what Keith and Tina, who both died of complications from AIDS in the 1990s, would be doing today. Keith was only 32 when he died; Tina only 42.

New graffiti book sheds light on underground art

Gregory J. Snyder has penned Graffiti Lives: Beyond the Tag In New York’s Urban Underground, a rare critical work examining New York’s underground graffiti culture.


Graffiti Lives treats the much maligned art form and the urban youth who make it with respect. Snyder argues that although spray painting images on public property is illegal, it’s hardly a gateway to a life of criminal activity. In many cases, young graffiti artists grow up to find work in the art and design world. Many artists featured in the book have gone on to international acclaim with gallery shows all over the world.

Remember Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat? Their early “pieces” appeared on buildings and subway cars. Haring spoke eloquently of his attraction to graffiti:

I arrived in New York at a time when the most beautiful paintings being shown in the city were on wheels – on trains – paintings that traveled to you instead of vice versa. I was immediately attracted to the subway graffiti on several levels: the obvious mastery of drawing and color, the scale, the pop imagery, the commitment to drawing worthy of risk and the direct relationship between artist and audience


I still get excited when I see graffiti. Here in D.C. I see some really vivid and imaginative work while I ride on the Red Line through the city’s northeast side. You never know, I could be looking at tomorrow’s Picasso.

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Beat Bop”

Let’s take a second to look at Jean-Michel Basquiat‘s 1983 painting “Beat Bop”:

It’s such an interesting work. It looks nothing like the vibrant, colorful paintings he’s known for, but if you look closely, you see its content is signature Basquiat, all about the power of black music in America, specifically the jazz he loved so much. Here’s one of the artist with a more recognizable work:

Basquiat is probably my favorite artist. I fell in love with his work when I was about 16. My mom bought me a book on the dollar table in a book store at a mall in St. Petersburg, Fl. The book shaped the course of my life. It was called Art After Midnight: The East Village Scene and it was a history of all the great bands and artists in New York during the 1970s and 1980s. It was filled with big, glossy color pictures. For a dollar! That book introduced me to the work and ideas of Basquiat, Keith Haring, Kenny Sharf, John Sex, Ann Magnuson, Klaus Nomi and so many more historic figures. It also included great stories about some of my favorite bands: the Ramones, Talking Heads, the B-52s, and music I would love later, like Patti Smith, Television, Richard Hell and the Voidoids.

Anyway, thanks, Mom.

And thanks, Jean-Michel.

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