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When art and politics intersect


If artist Keith Haring were still alive he might have joined the anti-homophobia demonstrations taking place in Paris during the opening weekend of a new retrospective of his art.

More than 20 years after his death, a new exhibit still packs a big political punch. Entitled “The political Line” the show opened at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and at the Cent Quatre community centre on 19 April 2013.

One of the most influential artists of his time, Mr Haring was known for his political messages. His art focused on communicating difficult issues such as social justice and individual freedom.

Even the title “The political Line” - is a play on words - honouring both his political narrative and his emphasis on line drawings. The exhibit is also making a political statement by showing in two very different Paris neighbourhoods.  

“One is in the 16th, which is a very rich quarter, in a museum and one show here at the Cent Quatre in the 19th,” said Bettina Bauerfeind a guide for the Cent Quatre community center, at the heart of an urban renewal area. “This is an exceptional exhibition because it brings together people - he wanted to offer his artwork to everybody.”

“The fact that much of his art was painted and shown in public spaces means that people have to interact with issues like violence, AIDS and homophobia,” said Annemarie Hou, UNAIDS Director of Communications. “His art is as relevant today as it was when he painted them and he continues to influence a new generation of activism through art.”

Diagnosed with HIV in 1998, the artist set up a foundation dedicated to AIDS and children’s issues. In honour of World AIDS Day in 2008, UNAIDS received two Keith Haring sculptures on loan from the foundation for the UNAIDS “Art for AIDS” collection.

The Paris retrospective follows a timeline of Mr Haring’s political messages - featuring more than 250 works of art. The exhibit runs until 18 August 2013.


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Information in this article was accurate in April 22, 2013. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.