In honor of the installation of the ceiling from Keith Haring’s famous Pop Shop above the new admissions area in the Robert H. and Clarice Smith New York Gallery of American History, the New-York Historical Society, in collaboration with the Keith Haring Foundation, has created a rotating display devoted to the Pop Shop in the Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture. The ceiling is a gift from the Haring Foundation, and all items in the Luce Center display are on loan from Foundation.
The latest of these displays to be installed, on view from September 18, 2012 through January 13, 2013, reflects on Keith Haring’s contributions to education, in particular his work in encouraging young people to read. On view will be posters, drawings and T-shirt designs by Haring, photographs by Adam Scull and Tseng Kwong Chi documenting the official launch of a Haring-designed campaign of public service advertisements, newspaper articles, a television interview with Haring, and one of the artist’s journals.
In 1986, with the encouragement of his friend and mentor Andy Warhol (1928–1987), internationally known New York artist Keith Haring (1958–1990) caused controversy by opening the Pop Shop in downtown Manhattan. Among Haring’s, and the Pop Shop’s, biggest fans were children: “There is nothing that makes me happier than making a child smile,” noted Haring in a 1988 journal entry. “The reason the “baby” has become my logo or signature is that it is the purest and most positive experience of human existence.” Throughout the 1980s Haring offered his services for education projects. In 1985 he created the poster for New York is Book Country, the famous annual book fair held on Fifth Avenue in support of the Children’s Services Division of the New York Public Library. Many of the best-known children’s authors including Charles Schulz, Maurice Sendak, and William Steig also donated their artwork for fair posters over the years—even as a fine artist, Haring’s work naturally paralleled theirs.