The Brooklyn Museum is posting Keith Haring’s journals online, one page per day, for the duration of the exhibition “Keith Haring: 1978-1982.” While the exhibition spans four years of Haring’s life just prior to his becoming a celebrated artist, his journals go even further back, all the way to 1971, when the artist was 12 years old. While you can see some of these journals in person at the exhibition, some of which have been published in book form (Keith Haring Journals (2010)), viewing them online is, surprisingly, a lot more personal.
The online journals offer the opportunity for in-depth scrutiny of his messy handwriting, his whimsical doodles and his memorabilia stuck into the pages and hand-colored. When you view them at the museum, in contrast, they’re placed in glass cases and you feel pressured to move on so the next person can get a good look. Reading them online, you can linger for as long as you like and have the chance to notice things that might have otherwise escaped you, like Haring’s tabulations of his fiscal transactions at the age of 12—the $0.11 deposit on March 1, 1971; his meticulous attention to detail—keeping track of letters he “got” and “sent” at camp; and early signs of his penchant for advocacy that he would later come to be known for—such as a depiction of a sad-looking “Mother Earth” with a thought bubble that reads “Help!!”
The journals—fading paper and all—are a rare treat worth spending some time with.
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