One of the stories unfolding here is the history of 300 works of art that are being bought and sold on the international marketplace as the “lost” works of Keith Haring. If these works turn out to be authentic works by Keith, then this particular story has great value for the millions of his fans who have undying desire to know more about him and his art. If they are discovered to be fakes, then this series of events constitutes an astounding international forgery on a massive scale.
That story involves the origin of the works, their provenance and accompanying research. It involves as well, how these works happened to come into public view and the fascinating collector, Victor Lallouz, who has in his possession forty-seven of these amazing pictures. Victor is more than a character in these pages. He is an inspiration and shares my collaborative vision.
During my telling of the story thus far, the Estate of Keith Haring has become a part of this narrative as well. The interest of the Estate in these events is understandable and I welcome that involvement. Ultimately, these works will either be authenticated by the Keith Haring Foundation or they will not. Clearly, the Estate and the Foundation have an interest in either outcome. And this in itself is part of the story worth telling, I think.
For me, these stories exist within the context of the relationship I have with Keith Haring, who died in 1990. The nature of this relationship is defined by the time we spent together, discussions, and agreements we had during his lifetime. These are some of the reasons I carry the work forward.
From the beginning, it has been clear that the work of Keith Haring, my own work, and the work of many artists are intertwined and share certain basic concerns – metaphysical as well as practical concerns, for want of better terms. The idea that art is – by its nature – both spiritual and scientific, is tempered by the political realities that surface as symptoms of the cultural context within which artists find themselves. The ultimate realization of this tradition is a kind of fusion of metaphysics and existentialism.
This tradition and these, essentially philosophical, issues are deeply significant aspects of both Keith’s art and my own. This is an important aspect of our relationship and it is pivotal to the project we initiated in the mid-1980s. Our work involves a pursuit of a “key to the mysteries” of art and life.
In addition to the aesthetic significance of re-examining the canon of art history in light of the above considerations, this story is an intensely personal one for me. In 1997, I completed the initial volume of this project, Reading Lies Dreaming. In that text, I come to terms with the basic situation I was left with after Keith’s tragic and untimely physical death. I published the first four chapters of Reading Lies Dreaming in Eschaton Books’ Terminal Journal. Currently, the first seven chapters are available online.
In Reading Lies Dreaming, I report factual accounts of details of conversations and experiences I shared with Keith while he was physically alive. These accounts are documented in pages of news articles and reviews I have published, in hours of audio recordings I made of our discussions, and in written correspondence between Keith and me. The factual documentary material is interwoven with descriptions of dreams that occured after Keith’s death and which continue to this day. The dreams increase when I am writing on the subject – when I am actively working on The Project. I include them for their potentially revelatory quality, as they illuminate interior landscapes.
Now, a decade after I completed Reading Lies Dreaming, I am continuing the text in several media – including this weblog – and under several titles. This was prompted by Victor’s call as documented here, in the first installment of this series. The ensuing entries constitute a new cycle of the unfolding story. By reading, commenting, and by your correspondence, you become a part of it.
Welcome, again, to The Project.
Image one: Keith Haring, detail from “Keith Haring,” artist’s book published by Appearances Press, 1982.
Collection of Tullio Franceso DeSantis
Image two: Tullio Francesco DeSantis, “Generation 14,” pierced paper, 1977, from the exhibition catalog “Paper as Medium,” Smithsonian Exhibition Traveling Exhibition Service, 1978 – 1980.