10th Anniversary Exhibition Keith Haring and Japan: Pop to Neo-Japonism


Sponsorship: CMIC HOLDINGS Co., Ltd.
Supported by U.S. Embassy, Tokyo, Yamanashi Prefecture, Yamanashi Board of Education, Hokuto City, Hokuto City Board of Education
Special Thanks: The Keith Haring Foundation, Tama City Cultural Foundation, PIA Corporation, Yoshikuni Kawashima, CHINO, GENXY
Nakamura Keith Haring Collection—is the only museum in the world dedicated to the collection of Keith Haring’s artworks. The museum celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2017. The exhibition focuses on the footprints Haring left in Japan.
In his first visit to Japan, Haring makes drawings on mediums that are unique to Japan such as folding screens, scrolls, kites and fans with Sumi ink. He had not only been influenced by his early introduction to Zen but he had also been inspired by Eastern philosophy; this includes both cultural and literary elements.
He was experiencing the height of Tokyo’s economic boom of the 80’s. A dichotomy of ultra modern and the traditional were both a source of fascination and inspiration for him.
After the success of his revolutionary art project: Pop Shop which inherited the concept of his break out graffiti project, Subway Drawings, in 1988, Haring opens Pop Shop Tokyo in Aoyama, Tokyo. The shop was a sensation and many people waited in line just to get a glimpse of Haring’s Pop-style. In this exhibition, we explore his liberating and diverse point of view by showing works expressing Japanese aesthetics.
The exhibition also includes the important mural made with 500 children in 1987 at Parthenon Tama, Tokyo. This work is the culmination of an art that communicates beyond language.
The concept of what I produce is based on “Pop” so I think it can be received in the same way in both Tokyo and New York. I think the Japanese are looking to the Western World a bit much right now—the desire to be more American or to be more Western. I believe that if you turn the traditional Japanese culture into Pop, something amazing can be born, rather than copying American things.
-Keith Haring 1988