Keith Haring Construction Fence

By Haggerty Museum of Art

In 1983 Haggerty Museum of Art founding Director Dr. Curtis L. Carter invited New York City-based artist Keith Haring to create a mural on the fence enclosing the new museum’s construction site. Haring spent three days on the Marquette University campus—located in downtown Milwaukee—working in collaboration with Marquette students, staff, and faculty to create the twenty-four section work of art that is now a beloved part of the Haggerty Museum of Art's collection.

"Construction Fence" fence construction (1983) by Haggerty Museum of ArtHaggerty Museum of Art

Before Haring's visit to Milwaukee, a construction fence comprised of 24 4' x 8' plywood panels was built. The fence was 96' long and 8' high.

"Construction Fence" fence preparation (1983) by Haggerty Museum of ArtHaggerty Museum of Art

The fence was then painted with white oil-based primer. Here Marquette University students participate in the fence preparation.

Keith Haring shopping for paint (1983) by Haggerty Museum of ArtHaggerty Museum of Art

In April 1983 Haring traveled to Milwaukee from New York City with his partner, deejay Juan Dubose. Here they shop for paint at National Hardware store on Milwaukee's North Third Street.

"Construction Fence" back view (1983) by Haggerty Museum of ArtHaggerty Museum of Art

Soon after arriving at the site, Haring began drawing broad outlines using black deck paint. This photo shows the back of the fence, which Haring painted with his signature barking dog and baby icons.

"Construction Fence" being painted by Marquette students (1983) by Haggerty Museum of ArtHaggerty Museum of Art

The outlines were filled with orange Day-Glo paint. Haring drew all of the outlines, and did most of the filling himself. But he allowed Marquette students to paint the orange spaces in some sections.

Keith Haring in conversation with Curtis L. Carter (1983) by Haggerty Museum of ArtHaggerty Museum of Art

Haring, shown here with Dr. Carter, used an evolving vocabulary of pictograms in his work. He first used the baby and dog images as graffiti tags when making art in New York's streets and subways.

Keith Haring visits with Marquette students (1983) by Haggerty Museum of ArtHaggerty Museum of Art

As soon as he started painting, Haring attracted a crowd that included students, artists, and members of Marquette's Women's Council--which pledged to raise funds to build the Museum.

"Construction Fence" artist at work (1983) by Haggerty Museum of ArtHaggerty Museum of Art

Many reporters documented the scene. When a local news camera person visited, Haring responded by painting a TV monitor with angel wings into the mural while he was being filmed.

"Construction Fence" artist works and interacts (1983) by Haggerty Museum of ArtHaggerty Museum of Art

Haring was very clear about his desire to communicate through art with as wide an audience as possible. Throughout his visit Haring generously handed out his "radiant baby" buttons and other images.

"Construction Fence" iconic Haring three-eyed face (1983) by Haggerty Museum of ArtHaggerty Museum of Art

The mural features figures inspired by break dancers dancing to Hip Hop music, and Electric Boogie dancing--when electric pulsations are transferred between dancers through fluid body movements.

"Construction Fence" portrait of the artist (1983) by Haggerty Museum of ArtHaggerty Museum of Art

On the last day of Haring's visit--a Saturday morning--Dr. Carter invited Marquette University President Father John P. Raynor, S.J., to meet the artist, and to take a photograph with him.

"Construction Fence" Museum Groundbreaking Ceremony (1983) by Haggerty Museum of ArtHaggerty Museum of Art

Dr. Carter speaks during the Haggerty's April 25, 1983 ground-breaking ceremony. Distinguished guests included Father John P. Raynor and Marquette University Women's Council President Patricia Apple.

Keith Haring creating an untitled drawing (1983) by Haggerty Museum of ArtHaggerty Museum of Art

During Haring's visit to Milwaukee he also created a 40-1/4" x 60-1/2" drawing with ink on foamcore.

Keith Haring untitled drawing (1983) by Keith HaringHaggerty Museum of Art

The completed drawing is now part of the Haggerty Museum of Art's collection.

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