In the thirty years since his death, Keith Haring—a central presence on the New York downtown scene of the 1980s—has remained one of the most popular figures in contemporary American art. In one of the first book-length treatments of Haring’s artistry, Ricardo Montez traces the drawn and painted line that was at the center of Haring’s artistic practice and with which the artist marked canvases, subway walls, and even human flesh. Keith Haring’s Line unites performance studies, critical race studies, and queer theory in an exploration of cross-racial desire in Haring’s life and art. Examining Haring’s engagements with artists such as dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones, graffiti artist LA II, and iconic superstar Grace Jones, Montez confronts Haring’s messy relationships to race-making and racial imaginaries, highlighting scenes of complicity in order to trouble both the positive connotations of inter-racial artistic collaboration and the limited framework of appropriation.
In Knowing and Seeing, Douglas Cooper reflects on his long career as a muralist in various cities around the world, including in Pittsburgh. The essays are also personal discussing family, memories from his childhood, mentoring from his Carnegie Mellon University professors, and his collaborations. They are also instructive. Murals are not walls but provide the appearance as such and require the artist to have a different skill set that is part architect, part painter, and part builder.
German artist Kurt Schwitters (1887–1948) is best known for his pioneering work in fusing collage and abstraction, the two most transformative innovations of twentieth-century art. Considered the father of installation art, Schwitters was also a theorist, a Dadaist, and a writer whose influence extends from Robert Rauschenberg and Eva Hesse to Thomas Hirschhorn. But while his early experiments in collage and installation from the interwar period have garnered much critical acclaim, his later work has generally been ignored. In the first book to fill this gap, Megan R. Luke tells the fascinating, even moving story of the work produced by the aging, isolated artist under the Nazi regime and during his years in exile.
Combining new biographical material with archival research, Luke surveys Schwitters’s experiments in shaping space and the development of his Merzbau, describing his haphazard studios in Scandinavia and the United Kingdom and the smaller, quieter pieces he created there. She makes a case for the enormous relevance of Schwitters’s aesthetic concerns to contemporary artists, arguing that his later work provides a guide to new narratives about modernism in the visual arts. These pieces, she shows, were born of artistic exchange and shaped by his rootless life after exile, and they offer a new way of thinking about the history of art that privileges itinerancy over identity and the critical power of humorous inversion over unambiguous communication. Packed with images, Kurt Schwitters completes the narrative of an artist who remains a considerable force today.