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Personal Jesus: The Religious Works of Keith Haring and Andy Warhol

June 1- September 2, 2007


Personal Jesus: The Religious Works of Keith Haring and Andy Warhol uncovers the spirituality of two American artists whose works often deviated from traditional religious art. The exhibition will be on view from June 1 through September 2, 2007 and will showcase a collection of Haring's works, including Andy Mouse, 10 versions of Apocalypse, Prophets of Rage, The Blueprint drawings, Totem, several untitled pieces, including the sculpture Untitled (Elephant) from the Warhol Museum collection. The majority of the Haring works are on loan from the Estate of Keith Haring. Although the collection reflects the central theme of religion, each work portrays the dangers and weaknesses of religion differently. Haring incorporates violence, sex and animals to reveal the power and influence of religion in people's lives.

"Post 1962, religious worship changed so that many young people viewed religion in a different light. They eschewed traditional religious figures and turned their back on churches that were purely seeking money. Jesus became more of a father figure rather than an untouchable deity. The 'second coming' in the 1980's saw a response to the psychedelic 70's in the form of evangelism combined with pop music, art and fashion." said Thomas Sokolowski, director of The Andy Warhol Museum.

Energetic and uninhibited, Haring was inspired by comic strips, graffiti and cartoons. His dedication to creating public art led him to the subways, where he would draw on empty, black advertising spaces with white chalk. Haring was recognized for his "tag image" of a crawling baby surrounded by halos. This "radiant baby" or "Christ child" became Haring's signature motif and symbolizes the celebration of life. Haring's work remains powerful in that it brings people together through a shared passion and faith.

Haring hired many assistants to help him in the creation of murals, which frequently utilized the medium of magic marker on tarp. Consumed by semi-abstract torsos, "radiant babies," and barking dogs, Haring's murals brought a depth and flair to street art that gained public popularity.

Haring collaborated with various artists from various genre including Andy Warhol, Madonna, Grace Jones, Timothy Leary, and Jenny Holzer, and organized events at Club 57 and appeared in more than 40 magazine and newspaper articles in 1986 alone. Aside from his religious beliefs, Haring loved to party and was as into the club scene as he was art scene. Haring was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988 and utilized his artwork to address the AIDS crisis until his death in 1990.

"when I paint, it is an experience that, at its best, is transcending reality. When it is working, you completely go into another place, you're tapping into things that are totally universal, of the total consciousness, completely beyond your ego and your own self"
- Haring in an interview with Rolling Stones, 1989

Andy Warhol grew up as a Byzantine Catholic and attended mass almost every day of his life. Warhol volunteered at local soup kitchens and made donations to shelters on a regular basis. He and Haring recognized the weaknesses of traditional religion and observed the extent to which people use religion. They uncovered the possibility that one who does not conform may be more of a believer than one who conforms solely to follow tradition.

Warhol collaborated with Haring, Francesco Clemente and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and more, all of whom inspired him to return to painting prior to his death. One of Warhol's last works was a reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper.

Part of the exhibition title, Personal Jesus, pays homage to a song originally performed by the British rock n' roll Band, Depeche Mode. Depeche Mode explored religious themes and gained influence and popularity with Personal Jesus, which reveals the consequences of being blinded by love.

The exhibition's opening reception will take place at The Andy Warhol Museum on Thursday, May 31, from 8 to 11 p.m. Lou Reed will be on hand for a special book/CD signing during the opening celebration as part of the Museum's second special exhibition opening the same evening titled Lou Reed: New York. Special guest DJ, Dean Wareham, of the band Luna fame and Haring inspired art activities will also be part of the celebration. Fee.

(above: Keith Haring, Untitled (Elephant), 1985, Acrylic on papier-mâché. © Estate of Keith Haring)


(above: Keith Haring, Untitled, Silkscreen. © Estate of Keith Haring, ARS, New York)

Editor's note:

For Andy Warhol:

See from other websites, an essay on the artist by Lynne Cooke provided by the Dia Art Foundation, and

TFAO's Topics in American Representational Art provides resources on the Pop Art movement.


this book:

Andy Warhol, By Carter Ratcliff, Published 1991, ISBN: 978-1-55859-257-5. (online book excerpt available from Abbeville Press) (right: catalogue front cover courtesy Abbeville Press)


these DVD or VHS videos:

Absolut Warhola. This documentary explores Andy Warhol's Eastern European roots by travelling to Mikova, Slovakia, where his parents grew up, and interviewing members of his extended family: two cousins, two aunts, and a great-niece. Also interviewed are a Ruthenian Andy Warhol impersonator, and Dr. Michal Bycko, curator of the Andy Warhol museum in Medzilaborce, Slovakia, who discusses the museum's mission and shows some of its rarer pieces. Directed and written by Stanislaw Mucha. c2001. 80 min. DVD 2348. Available from Media Resources Center, Library, University of California, Berkeley. Title Note from Tower Video: "This lighthearted documentary traces the humble origins of artist and pop icon Andy Warhol back to two small, quiet villages in Eastern Europe. There, director Stanislaw Mucha interviews subjects ranging from Warhol's relatives to the curator of Warhola Museum, who seems to have much different criteria for choosing which works to display than a western counterpart would. Mucha finds that the common thread running through all of these people is that, even though they may not fully understand what brought their most famous son such worldwide acclaim, they are proud that one of their own has achieved such dizzy heights." (9/5/08 note: Google Video contains several clips from this video. Clips with 26 minutes of total footage in Slovak language with Dutch subtitling are available in 4 parts)

Andy Warhol is a 77 minute 1987 video which was the first major profile of the American Pop-Art cult leader since his death in 1987. It covers Warhol's life and work through interviews, film clips and conversations with members of his family and his "superstar" friends. Featured are conversations with a dozen of his closest associates -- including Ondlne, Viva, John Giorno, Brlgid Berlin and others -- discussing his family, colleagues, the art world, and his impact on society.The video was produced by RM Arts; London Weekend Television.

Andy Warhol: A Documentary (from American Masters). PBS says about this 240 minutes 2006 PBS Home Video DVD filmed in 16 x 9 aspect ratio: "Winner of the Peabody Award! No artist in the second half of the 20th century was more famous, or misunderstood, than Andy Warhol. This film explores his astonishing output from the late 1940s to his death in 1987. Obsessed with the desire to transcend his origins, Warhol grasped the realities of modern society and became the high priest of one of the most radical experiments in American culture, penetrating the barrier between art and commerce."

Andy Warhol: Life And Death is contained on two DVD discs totaling 81 minues. PBS says of this 2004 video: "Brilliant, complex artist, eccentric individual, tragic commercial and critical success. The mysterious Andy Warhol was all these, and more. But how much else was there to know? Life and Death probes the surreal man behind the surface, and the blurred reality he perceived, in a fascinating documentary style, part whispered fiction, part spoken opera, all reality,"

Andy Warhol: The Complete Picture was released in 2003 and is a 105 minute documentary on 2 tapes from Bfs Entertainment. Directed by Chris Rodley. Warhol was just as famous for being "Andy Warhol" as he was for his artwork. He was a celebrity's celebrity, yet he was also a shy, prolific artist who worked in everything from painting to film to music. This documentary provides a definitive look at Warhol's life and his creative process. Features rare audiotapes and films from the Warhol Foundation Archives in addition to interviews with Debbie Harry, Dennis Hopper and more. "Exhilaratingly thorough, a Complete Oxford English Dictionary of Warhol" (The Times). DVD :includes a Warhol chronology, filmography and more.

Biography: Andy Warhol. This video covers Pop artist Andy Warhol's life and work, from his paintings based on comic strips and photos of public personalities to his painted replicas of Campbell's Soup cans. 50 minutes. (quote courtesy Plains Art Msueum)

Scenes From the Life of Andy Warhol: Friendships and Intersections. A film by Jonas Mekas. In this 1990 film Jonas Mekas chronicles not only the great pop artist, Andy Warhol, but also the social and cultural excitement that swirled around him, throbbing to a hypnotic Velvet Underground beat. This is a candid, relaxed film diary including his friends Barbara Rubin, Tuli Kupferberg, Allen Ginsberg, Peter Olovksy, Ed Sanders, Gerard Malanga, Storm De Hirsch and George Maciunas. 1997. 58 min. Video/C 4782. Available from Media Resources Center, Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Superstar - The Life & Times of Andy Warhol is an 87 minute 1991 documentary directed by Chuck Workman from Marylin Lewis Entertainment, released through Winstar Home Entertainment. A documentary about the painter Andy Warhol which traces his life from Pittsburgh schoolboy to pop art legend. The film includes a behind the scenes look at "Factory" life and several enigmatic interviews given by Warhol over the years, as well as an array of images from Warhol's art and films.

Visions of Warhol. Award presentation to Andy Warhol, 1963 / Jonas Mekas -- Andy Warhol's silver flotations, 1964 / Willard Maas -- Anthropological sketches : friendships and intersections : scenes from the life of Andy Warhol, 1963-90 / Jonas Mekas -- Andy Warhol, 1965 / Marie Menken -- Andy Warhol's exploding plastic inevitable, 1967 / Ronald Nameth. Scenes from the life of Andy Warhol, as seen by four pioneer avant-garde film-makers and close friends of the Pop-artist. Dist.: Electronic Arts Intermix. 82 min. Video/C MM1062. Available from Media Resources Center, Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Warhol is a 79 minute video which offers a profile of Andy Warhol's life and work examines a career that spanned painting, film, publishing, rock music, and television.

TFAO does not maintain a lending library of videos or sell videos. Click here for information on how to borrow or purchase copies of VHS videos and DVDs listed in TFAO's Videos -DVD/VHS, an authoritative guide to videos in VHS and DVD format


For Keith Haring:

this DVD or VHS videos:

Drawing the Line: A Portrait of Keith Haring. From Kultur Video. An inside view of a controversial artist whose passion for the contemporary human condition was the fervor that drove his art.  In 31 years, Haring went from being an anonymous graffiti artist to being called the successor to Warhol and Lichtenstein.  Includes interviews with gallery owners and leaders of the international art scene. 30 minutes. (quote courtesy Plains Art Msueum) View video clips via YouTube for Drawing the Line - Keith Haring (1989) Part 1 of 3 [9:25]; Part 2 of 3 [9:57]; Part 3 of 3 [9:39]

and this book:

Keith Haring: Future Primeval, By Barry Blinderman et al., Published 1992, ISBN: 978-1-55859-378-7. (online book excerpt available from Abbeville Press) (right: catalogue front cover courtesy Abbeville Press)


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