The accessibility of art to all classes of society is an important subject amid a frightening landscape of budget cuts. One of the core beliefs of the Bauhaus movement suggested that art should strive to meet the demands of every member of society (from doctor to janitor) and that there should be no division between form and function. Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring were two artists who insisted on working in environments that would share their creative talents with everyone. Subway stations, city streets and abandoned industrial warehouses all were cloaked in the beauty of their work. From teenage graffiti artists in New York City, to highly acclaimed painters, both men helped to usher in a new style of artist who conveys the electrifying pulse of large metropolitan areas through their inspiring work.
Jean-Michel Basquiat added his distinctive creative voice to both the Neo-expressionism and the Contemporary art genres. Note how he walks a fine line between radical spontaneity and restricted control in the three examples below. Many of Basquiat’s works contain a captivating political message such as poverty versus wealth, or the surprising similarities between the Atlantic slave trade and the Egyptian slave trade.
Keith Haring is known for his vibrant contributions to both the Pop art and the Contemporary art genres. The graffiti influences of his teen years stand out in the colorfully bold cartoon figures seen below. Haring enjoyed conveying the importance of life and unity through his work, and later in his career, also included socio-political themes, such as anti-Apartheid and AIDS awareness. The painting, “Andy Mouse”, is a playful representation of his own friendship with renowned artist Andy Warhol.
Mid-Century modern furniture reflects the dreams of Gropius and many of the Bauhaus era to provide a functional, affordable and consistent product that reunites both arts and crafts in an artistic form that any socioeconomic class can enjoy. Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring shared their creative genius with the public in a similar generous manner and should be celebrated for their impact on keeping the joy of art free.