ARTiculate

Month: December, 2013

‘Lick Boy Fat Art’: Keith Haring’s Language Art Decoded

A drawing from Haring’s journal dated August 27, 1982. ©Keith Haring Foundation.

A drawing from Haring’s journal dated August 27, 1982. ©Keith Haring Foundation.

“Art Boy Sin,” reads a sheet of graph paper from Keith Haring’s notebook.

“Fat Art Sin,” it continues.

“Sin Lick Boy.”

These phrases, penned neatly in black ink, were part of the script for Haring’s 1979 film Lick Fat Boys. In the video, the young artist reads off sequences that he created using letters from the title “First National Bank.” Each anagram is an allusion to New York’s gay subculture. The repetition continues until Haring ultimately forms the bawdy phrase for which the work is named.

Lick Fat Boys is one of more than 130 rarely viewed archival objects and artworks featured in the new exhibition “Keith Haring: Languages.” On view through February 28 at New York University’s Fales Library, the show focuses on text-based films, notes, collages, and sketches that Haring created in the late 1970s and early ’80s, shortly after moving to New York City. As the exhibition’s curator, Andrew Blackley, explains, these language studies “set the stage” for Haring to develop the iconic pictograms—barking dogs, intertwined male bodies, and happy, dancing people—for which he is known today.

On the pages of his notebooks, Haring worked to identify the limits of the written word and find a nonrestrictive language—one that would allow him to discuss topics that were, at that time, considered taboo. He performed operations on words, altering their form and questioning their value. He discovered clever ways to embed gay themes and vocabulary into a language that, in large part, excluded them. Read the full story on artnews.com!

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The Man Who Turned a Warehouse into a Vermeer

Tim Jenison assembles an experimental optical device. Photo: Shane F. Kelly, ©2013 High Delft Pictures LLC, Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics. All Rights Reserved.

Tim Jenison assembles an experimental optical device. Photo: Shane F. Kelly, ©2013 High Delft Pictures LLC, Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics. All Rights Reserved.

In a rented warehouse in San Antonio, Texas, inventor and tinkerer Tim Jenison whittles the leg of a wooden harpsichord. Midway through the laborious process, he realizes that the lathe he is using to carve ridges into the leg can’t accommodate its length. Rather than risk compromising the accuracy of the reconstruction he is working on by cutting it in two parts, Jenison improvises and takes a power saw to the machine, slicing it in two. This allows him to extend the lathe just a few more inches.

Jenison is in the process of constructing an exact replica of the scene in Vermeer’s The Music Lesson (1662–5) and this instrument is a key element. In the Dutch artist’s painting, a man and a young woman stand at a harpsichord in a sunlit room. Through a series of geometric tricks, lighting effects, and reflections, the viewer’s eye is drawn directly to the couple. By recreating the scene in fine detail and then painting it, Jenison hopes to demonstrate how Vermeer could have accomplished such optical illusions.

Jenison’s obsession is the subject of a new film by his longtime friends, the magicians Penn & Teller. Titled Tim’s Vermeer, the documentary opens in select cities Friday and nationwide on January 31. Read the full story on artnews.com!