Keith Haring: Radiant Gambit is now on display in St. Louis.

By Stacey Leasca
January 14, 2021
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Credit: Vilac, Keith Haring Chess Set, 2019, Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame, Keith Haring artwork copyright ©️ Keith Haring Foundation

The World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis, MO is about to get a little cooler. 

In January, the World Chess Hall of Fame announced its latest exhibition, Keith Haring: Radiant Gambit. The exhibit features artwork by Haring, the world-renowned pop artist best known for his mix of art and philanthropy throughout the 1980s. As his bio explains:

"During a brief but intense career that spanned the 1980s, Haring's work was featured in over 100 solo and group exhibitions. In 1986 alone, he was the subject of more than 40 newspaper and magazine articles. He was highly sought after to participate in collaborative projects and worked with artists and performers as diverse as Madonna, Grace Jones, Bill T. Jones, William Burroughs, Timothy Leary, Jenny Holzer, Yoko Ono and Andy Warhol. By expressing universal concepts of birth, death, love, sex and war, using a primacy of line and directness of message, Haring was able to attract a wide audience and assure the accessibility and staying power of his imagery, which has become a universally recognized visual language of the 20th century." Now, fans of his work can head to Missouri to see a few of his well-known pieces alongside never-before-seen works and photographs of the artist.

"We have always wanted a show of Keith Haring's work," Shannon Bailey, Chief Curator at the museum, explains in a virtual tour of the exhibit. "His work is so dynamic, it's recognizable, and it's so much fun."Bailey further explains, while Haring himself wasn't a chess player, his personal message matches what they look to do at the World Chess Hall of Fame. "He wanted art to be for everybody and we want chess to be for everybody," Bailey said. 

Beyond the art, the new exhibit also features several chess sets created by the Haring Foundation following the artist's death and newly-commissioned pieces by Saint Louis artists, all paying homage to the late pop culture icon. 

The museum is currently offering free 30-minute curator-led tours for those who can make it in person. However, it should be noted that tickets are extremely limited, and both masks and social distancing are required. For everyone else, the museum recorded the same tour so we could all enjoy the magic of Haring's work from home. Check out the museum's website now for tickets and more information.

Stacey Leasca is a journalist, photographer, and media professor. Send tips and follow her on Instagram now.