Clothing as Canvas
From CANTWO to Keith Haring
Words: Caiza Andresen
Last year I asked my brother, who lives in the USA, if he could get me something because the supplier unfortunately does not deliver to Germany. What that was? I wanted a Yankees Cap from the MoMA in New York. These caps have a stitching that reads: Museum of Modern Art.
My brother once said: »If one day you decide to get married no matter what, go to the MoMA. You‘ll find the greatest women there.« Besides that I really love art and consider it to be a big part of my life. And I like to show that, too. I trust in art, because let’s be honest – what do you do with someone who does not like art? I’m quite sure there’s something very specific missing in a person who does not enjoy or is not moved when looking at something an artist has created. An idea that has been transferred by hand onto paper, stone or whatever medium imaginable. I’m fascinated by the drive of a person to express his inner self and even share that with others, maybe even to draw attention to something that he wants to change.
My first contact with fashion in combination with art was probably the purchase of a STICK UP KIDZ sweater circa 2002 at a sale of a record store. Even though I was not so fond of the color, it had a striking design by CANTWO on the chest and the 15-year-old toy that I was (with a heart in the right place though) wanted to show the world what I was all about. Back in the days my brain, clouded by the smell of On the Run markers, was just enjoying the design. Sure, I could hang my favorite art print on my wall at home, but how mind blowing was the idea to wear it as a design element in my everyday life?
My all time favorites in terms of sneakers are those created by artists such as Stash, Futura or Piet Parra. The artist is a designer after all. Of course you can use a T-shirt as a canvas and go through life as a walking gallery, showing your passion and interests to the outside world. The streetwear culture is known for taking advantage of this. Whether it’s Stüssy x Haze, Vans x Vincent van Gogh, Supreme x Andres Serrano, X-Large x Hajime Sorayama, everybody x Kaws or the brand Obey itself, to name but a few.
Especially graffiti and the resulting »street art« is the go-to choice when it comes to fashion collabs. And one of the OGs in the field of graffiti, even if people tend to forget him in that particular context, is Keith Haring.
Haring startet out in the early 1980s with painting his now world-famous figures on advertising posters in the New York City subway. In the following years he made friends with legends such as Jean-Michel Basquiat or Andy Warhol and became a world-renowned star himself. His career includes countless solo exhibitions, participation in Documenta 7 and the Biennale. He was given the opportunity to design billboards in Times Square and worked with Swatch, among others.
Haring wanted his art to be seen, to be enjoyable and at the same time thought-provoking and enlightening. In 1986 he opened up the Pop Shop, a store in NYC, where he sold T-shirts, posters, etc. with his designs. Within the art world this was regarded a sell-out. I think that in 2019, in times of Kaws and others, we don’t care anymore. Haring painted over 50 public works, for example for children’s hospices or orphanages. His legendary »Crack is wack« mural was created at that time. Artists like Grace Jones, Yoko Ono or Madonna worked with him.
In 1990, Keith Haring died of the complications of his AIDS disease. In 1988, he was diagnosed and just one year later he founded the Keith Haring Foundation, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of the disease, which was still a taboo at the time. Haring used all his popularity and above all his visual language to tell the story of his illness, to help others.
Keith Haring is not forgotten. His art can be seen in museums and collections all over the world. His style is immediately recognized. One could call him THE visual language of the 20th century. But just as we remember his art, we should remember the human.
Lacoste now honors this great man with the Lacoste x Keith Haring collection. A combination that not only adopts the artist’s designs and prints them on a piece of clothing, but also embodies a perfect symbiosis of design and culture and feels very organic.
Rest in Power, Keith.
Check out the Lacoste x Keith Haring collection online at HHV: www.hhv.de/shop/en/lacoste-x-keith-haring