Wednesday, December 24, 2008

AltXmasArt 11: Radiant Baby

“Radiant Baby” (from Icons series) by Keith Haring, 1990. © Estate of Keith Haring Silkscreen, 21 x 25 inches.
“Radiant Baby” strips the Christmas story down to its core: A child is born. It took a gay artist -- Keith Haring -- to get to the pure essence of Christmas. He paints a generic baby. The child is faceless, without any trappings of race, gender or family of origin. The only thing special about this baby is its radiance. Is “Radiant Baby” the Christ child, or every child? Art historian Natalie E. Phillips makes an excellent case that Haring did indeed consider it an image of Christ. In her essay “The Radiant (Christ) Child,” she writes that Haring’s teenage activity in the Jesus Movement during the 1970s left a lasting impact on him and his art. He created many works that transform Christian images to make more ambiguous statements. The “Radiant Baby” began as a “tag” that Haring left in his early days as a graffiti artist and often used as his signature on later artwork. Haring (1958-1990) first attracted international attention in 1981 for his chalk drawings in the New York subways. He drew simple line figures like “Radiant Baby.” In his brief but intense career, he became one of the best known artists of his generation. Haring died of AIDS-related illnesses at age 31. Christianity teaches that all people are created in the image of God. As Christmas approaches, “Radiant Baby” reminds us that every baby is born radiant. Please come back tomorrow for AltXmasArt 12: “Madonna, Lover, and Son” by Becki Jayne Harrelson. ____ For more on Keith Haring, check out the new biography Keith Haring by Jeffrey Deitch.

No comments: