Date of Degree

2-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Art History

Advisor(s)

Siona Wilson

Committee Members

Emily Braun

Edward Miller

Jonathan T.D. Neil

Subject Categories

American Art and Architecture | Contemporary Art | Fine Arts | Interdisciplinary Arts and Media | Mass Communication | Other Film and Media Studies | Public Relations and Advertising

Keywords

Keith Haring, Pop Shop, East Village scene, New York, art merchandising, art activism

Abstract

During the peak of his career in New York, Keith Haring took his highly recognizable artistic style and distributed it in the form of merchandise in his Pop Shop, established in 1986. Stemming from his early work displayed on the New York streets, directly within public space, and his explorations into mass media strategies, he learned he could make his work accessible to new audiences outside contemporary art institutions and art circles. He translated his work across several surfaces: from subways or canvases, to everyday functional merchandise, such as buttons, t-shirts, and bags sold in his shop. Responding to a shift in advanced capitalist society, Haring mastered the language of commerce and promotion in order to mass distribute his ideas, and to increase the visibility of his art. His innovative approach to the market served as important model, predicting new norms of art in subsequent decades, and offers an important study on the often contentious relationship between art, everyday commercialism, and consumer culture.

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