Keith Haring exhibition @ Liverpool Tate (7/7/19)

Went to a fantastic exhibition of Keith Haring’s work on Sunday which is currently on at Tate Liverpool. Haring is known for his iconic Aztec-tribal-age meets electric-age style art which he often drew spontaneously, famously on the advertising blackboards of the New York subways in the early 80s. He tragically died of Aids very young at just 31, but accomplished much in that short time. He collaborated with many of the icons of the 80s including Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat and William Burroughs. Below are a few of the works displayed at the show (nb. almost all of the works are untitled so I haven’t given them names or dates but they can be found elsewhere).

“When it is working, you completely go into another place, you’re tapping into things that are totally universal, completely beyond your ego and your own self. That’s what it’s all about” – Keith Haring

Bosch-Cronenberg vibes

… very different to Haring’s usual style of drawing

favourite piece at the exhibit – you could spend an hour just looking at the scenes all the way down the wall which is like reading an interconnected story almost

 

Haring comic art

this was another of my favourite things at the show – an ad for a charity art exhibit which is hand designed by an all-star cast. My eye was drawn first to the little scraps of paper and I immediately recognised the handwriting of Jean-Micel Basquiat. The umbrellas are by Warhol, the striped sky is Lichtenstein, the mini-men Haring, and the little footsteps are Yoko Ono. What an amazing piece of history in one small poster!

harriet in front of ‘3 people attempt to stop the assassination of John Lennon’
A piece by haring on the hood of a New York taxi
this one reminds me of the calligraphy works by Brion Gysin who Haring said was an influence
after the exhibit we went to the Cavern Club

bootiful Liverpool

***

a few sublime quotes by Emerson

“If a man would be alone, let him look to the stars. The rays that come from those heavenly worlds, will separate between him and what he touches. One might think the atmosphere was made transparent with this design, to give man, in the heavenly bodies, the perpetual presence of the sublime. Seen in the streets of cities, how great they are! If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

 

“There is a moment, in the history of every nation, when, proceeding out of this brute youth, the perceptive powers reach their ripeness, and have not yet become microscopic: so that man, at that instant, extends across the entire scale; and, with his feet still planted on the immense forces of night, converses, by his eyes and brain, with solar and stellar creation.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Plato or, The Philosopher

** featured image is Lieve Verschuier’s ‘the great comet of 1680 over Rotterdam’ (1680)**

Nietzsche channels Dionysus

Nietzsche was grinning wide and red wine spilled freely from the seems of his mouth. Around him were many of his friends, Schiller and Holderlin among them, and many other young budding philosophers. Some of them were admired and revered in their own right, but next to Nietzsche they seemed like mere shadows upon a cave wall. Sometimes he would play tunes for them in the great halls of the university, deep into the night. As his fingers danced accross the keys he would seem to lose himself somewhere. Later on, they rejoice and recite poetry on the grassy hills overlooking the campus. They lie under the sprawling stars and the moonlight shone brightly down on them like truth itself. Their conversations were wild and free, like wild horses streaming over the hilltops. On this night, there was a young man sat close to Nietzsche, wide-eyed and wide-eared, writing frantically with his quill, trying to catch every word that flew from Nietzsche’s mind. What seemed mere jocularity to him seemed of greatest importance to this young man. He felt he must capture it all, for in these moments of jest, in the red swill of wine, his mind seemed to dance at its Dionysian zenith. At one point, when a silence had fell on them whilst in quiet reverie, Nietzsche looked up to the stars, and to the circle of friends around him. As if on cue a comet streaked by like the flick of a quill. Then he whispered to no-one and to all: we need only gaze up into those vast nebulas, those abyssal straits, to find enough inspiration to fill a thousand lives with wonder… we need not hail God… simply the infinite unknown! They smiled and drank to that, and gazed up at the stars for a very long time.

***

“nitimur in vetitum: we strive for what is forbidden”

“Philosophy, as I have hitherto understood and lived it, is a voluntary living in ice and high mountains… from the lengthy experience afforded by such a wandering in the forbidden I learned to view the origins of morilizing and idealizing very differently from what might be desirable: the hidden history of the philosophers, the psychology of their great names came to light for me. How much truth can a spirit bear? How much truth can a spirit dare? Error, a belief in the ideal, is not blindness, but cowardice… Every acquisition and step forward in knowledge is the result of courage, of severity towards oneself… Nitimur in vetitum: in this sign my philosophy will one day conquer, for fundamentally what has hitherto been forbidden has never been anything but the truth”

Nietzsche – Ecce Homo

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Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Graffiti-poetry

SAMO, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s early alter ego, once wrote ‘graffiti is a poem the city writes to itself’. Though he’s best known for his iconic grafitti art – which sort of blends 80 neon, cave/wall art and tiki masks – his origin you might say was words. SAMOs words plastered and invigorated the New York city streets of the late 70s. Dwindling democracy, rife racial discrimination, violent capitalism and rampant poverty.. these topics were the rocket fuel to his booming creative engine. His words, like his art, were simple and yet pierced to the bone, they grappled with the deeper, underlying truths which were not to be found anywhere else. They made the unspoken not only visible, but beautiful. though already well on his way to the history books and stardom, in 1980 he was befriended by Andy Warhol who immediately saw his artistic genius and even bought some of his work.. Basquiat was made. Later he would collaborate with Warhol, though Warhol himself, one of the most iconic artists who ever lived, was disconcerted by just how easily his own work became lost, drowned out and utterly overshadowed when put anywhere near the sheer aesthetic immensity, originality and gravitational pull of Basquiat’s art. Jean-Michel died tragically of a drug overdose at just 27, but he was prolific, and created thousands of sketches, and hundreds of larger paintings which continue to hold great power and significance.

Below is a series of fragments taken from Basquiat’s early notebooks (ed. Larry Warsh), which I’ve rearranged to make a series of poems. Many of the words and phrases appear again and again in his grafitti/art/poetry – a hoard of words and images that he cut and pasted here and there, not unlike that method used by William Burroughs, an author whom he greatly admired. Many of the phrases in the books are crossed out, and it is not known for certain why. It could have been that he did not like these fragments, or maybe because he had already used them out on the streets. If the latter is true he’d have been something like an 80s NY version of Wordsworth: wandering about with his notepad and spraycans, jotting down ideas and poetic fancies as he went about on his odyssey, through streets thrumming and overflowing with energy and vibrancy. A sense-blitz, in which his creative mind was set alight by the scenes all around him. Many of these fragments, as you’ll see, are so vivid and poetic they could easily have come straight out of the pages of the Beat poets. They’re simple, raw and cut to the core. Here is

 

((___POEMZ“__by____Basquiat©____))

***

THE DREAM WILL NEVER DIE

ACCEPT THE REALITY OF LIVING

RUSHED INTO A LIMO BY SECRET SERVICE

IN A FRONTAL ATTACK

***

MILLING IN THE CROWD

TODAY HE ADMITTED TO BEING FOOLISH

RAN INTO THE TRAIN TO BEAT OUT THE FLAMES

THEY HAD TO

THEY FALLEN ASLEEP AND WERE INHALING THE SMOKE

SLIGHT CRACK IN THE GAS LINE

***

EMPTY AND MISRABLE

THIS LIFE IS AN OPEN SORE FESTERING

BRICK RUINS

TOMB HOLLOW MORTURARIES

VOICES OF AUTHORITY MAKE MAJOR CLAIMS

OTHERS   FROM THE EAST

GATHER AROUND THEM

SHO…

***

THE BAR WAS REALLY RED WITH CHINESE PAPER CUTOUTS

AND WOOD PANELING

THERE WAS A GLASS ARGUMENT AT THE POOL TABLE

IN THE BACK

“THAT’LL BE EIGHTY CENTS POP”

6 OR 7 OLD PUGS IN FELT

SHE LOOKED LIKE A VILLAN FROM TERRY AND THE PIRATES

***

I FEEL LIKE A CITIZEN

IT’S TIME TO GO AND

 

COME BACK A DRIFTER

***

LEAPSICKNESS

THE LAW OF LIQUIDS

THAT THORN IN MY HEAD NAGGING

MY FISTS CLOSED

VICTIMS OF EMBELLISHED HISTORY

THE SPORES FLOATED ON EVERTHIN

***

COLONIES OF BLACK RODENTS

FAKE SANDPAPER

SLEDGEHAMMER EYES

ROAD DINER

PLAY THE PART FOR HIS OWN REASONS

***

A MARBLE IN A SHOTGLASS

AFTER BREAKFAST HE STEALS A WALLET

FROM DAY OLD DRUNK ON SATURDAY MORNING—–

KERNELS OF CORN AS A FINAL OFFER FOR DEFECTIVE RIFLES

***

A YOUTH WITH “CROW” SYNDROME:

(AN ATRACTION TO SHINY OBJECTS)

SEES THE STONE AROUND HER NECK

FAT MONKEY

***

THE JIG IS UP

SO SAY GOODBYE TO THE NIGHTMARE

ON AUTOMATIC PILOT

***

FLICK OF THE WRISK

JAPANESE ARCHITECTS

AREA CODE OF ST. LOUIS

***

HE WAS PASTY WHITE

NO HE WAS SWARTHY, DARK AND SEXY—

NO HE WAS PASTY WHITE X—

***

A PRAYER

NICOTINE WALKS ON EGGSHELLS

MEDICATED

THE EARTH WAS FORMLESS VOID

DARKNESS

FACE OF THE DEEP

SPIRIT MOVED ACCROSS THE

WATER AND THERE WAS LIGHT

“IT WAS GOOD”©

BREATHING INTO HIS LUNGS

2000 YEARS OF ASBESTOS.

***

 

 

“such pillars of fire must precede the great noontide”

dottori-fire
Gerardo Dottori – Burning City (1926)

“Here is the great city: where you have nothing to seek and everything to lose… Here is the Hell for hermits’ thoughts: here great thoughts are boiled alive and cooked small. Here all great emotions decay… Do you not smell already the slaughterhouses and cook-shops of the spirit? Does this city not reek of the fumes of slaughtered spirit?… Woe to this great city! I wish I could see already the pillar of fire in which it will be consumed! For such pillars of fire must precede the great noontide… I offer you in farewell this precept: where one can no longer love, one should pass by…”

– Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

art “striving for liberation” – quote from The Moon and Sixpence

“when I imagined that on seeing his pictures I should get a clue to the understanding of his strange character I was mistaken. They merely increased the astonishment with which he filled me. I was more at sea than ever. The only thing that seemed clear to me – and perhaps even this was fanciful – was that he was passionately striving for liberation from some power that held him. But what the power was and what line the liberation would take remained obscure. Each one of us is alone in the world. He is shut in a tower of brass, and can communicate with his fellows only by signs, and the signs have no common value, so that their sense is vague and uncertain. We seek pitifully to convey to others the treasures of our heart, but they have not the power to accept them, and so we go lonely, side by side but not together, unable to know our fellows and unknown to them. We are like people living in a country whose language they know so little that, with all manner of beautiful and profound things to say, they are condemned to the banalities of the conversation manual. Their brain is seething with ideas, and they can only tell you that the umbrella of the gardener’s aunt is in the house”

W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence 

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