New York street artist Keith Haring, who died nearly thirty years ago age 31 (from complications arising from AIDS) is still very much in demand and in fashion. Art collectors love him (just check out the upcoming auction in Paris on 5th May where nine works are expected to go for over 150,000€) and so do the kids (check out the range of t-shirts featuring his art at Uniqlo).
However, you don’t have to pay any money at all to see some of Haring’s most impressive works in Paris. The city has three pieces by the artist – one is difficult to see (we give you a glimpse), one is huge and one is hidden in a dark corner of a church! If you want to find them, read on…
So let’s start with the painting you’ll probably not see. 😳 It’s a work that the city’s modern art museum Le Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris has as part of its collection.
This untitle painting dates from 1984. It was lent out for an exhibitions in Lyon in 2008 and brought out of storage for Keith Haring, the Political Line, the museum’s exhibitions of 2013. Unfortunately, it’s not part of the permanent presentation at the museum, and there’s no way to know when it will be next visible. Shame…
Luckily, the two other Haring pieces are easy to admire, although you’ll find them in a couple of unusual places.
For example, over the space of three days in April and May 1987, Keith Haring painted a huge piece at the Hôpital Necker in Paris, a hospital specialising in child illnesses.
Painted without payment in order to “entertain the sick children” and called Tower, the piece is 27m high, 13m wide and features the artist’s famous stick figures in typically bright colours. No other Haring work in Europe is this big (well, perhaps one).
Tower – formerly a fire escape for a building that has since been knocked down – was restored in 2017 by Will Shank and Antonio Rava of the Keith Haring Foundation. You’ll find it in the interior garden of the Hôpital Necker (map at the bottom of this article). Entrance free. Enjoy!
The other Haring work in Paris is just as hidden, in a place we love very dearly – the Saint-Eustache church. It’s here that you’ll find a triptych called The Life of Christ.
In bronze covered with white gold leaf (unusual for the artist), and created very shortly before his death, there are nine copies of the piece around the world. This one was offered to the church by the Keith Haring Foundation in 2003. Other can be found in the United States, Jerusalem and Hiroshima.
Once inside the church, you’ll have to seek out the Saint-Vincent de Paul chapel in order to enjoy this piece – only dimly-lit – and admire the artist’s interpretation of Jesus rising up to heave, with angels protecting him on either side.
The superb setting only aids to amplify the resonance of the piece…
Of course, you should also walk round the church while you’re there and admire the spectacular interior. It really is one of the marvels of Paris.