Keith Haring at Tate Liverpool

As someone who has consistently visited Tate retrospective exhibitions at the two galleries in London as well as Tate St Ives, I was particularly excited about attending the Tate Liverpool and seeing this gallery that I feel gets overlooked amongst the popularity of Tate Modern and Britain.

Keith Haring can easily be credited as one of the most influential figures within the 1980s New York art scene. Belonging to the LGBT community, he expresses the difficulties this posed to him through his artwork. Alongside his art, he focused intensely on activism and helped begin a new wave of social change towards gay rights, drug abuse, the AIDS epidemic and a battle to end apartheid. Haring believed that the artist could be a ‘spokesman for a society at any given point in history.’ This idea runs throughout the exhibition, where it truly feels as though you are taken back to 1980s New York, with the vibrancy of the imagery being incredibly striking and relating to the pop art movement.

Upon entering the strength of colour, variation of pattern and scale of the artworks made the space a cultural hub, buzzing with energy and inspiration. The inclusion of film, painting on different medias, projections and a UV room make the exhibition a fully immersive experience. I found myself constantly snapping away at different images, curating my own version of the exhibition within a digital format. I visited along with two of my friends, one appeared to be baffled by the popularity of the imagery due to how simplistic it appears and how it looks as though it could be done by anyone. Granted, the black outlines and plain block colours are a clear contrast from high Renaissance art, however this shouldn’t subordinate their value as works of art.

The curation seemed to deliberately leave the viewer with the most poignant and important work of Haring in mind upon departing as they showed those raising awareness about AIDS and organisations like Silence=Death. These posing an interesting idea of whether the works themselves were forming a commercial idea of advertisement.

Anna Tattersall