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REQUIEM FOR THE DEGAS OF THE B-BOYS, KEITH HARING

The weird boxed and numbered [New York]
space we live in is already fantasy. Artists
have only to start with what's there and give it a
few fillips for the truly fantastic to emerge.
—John Ashbery, Reported Sightings

KEITH'S DEATH IS INCOMPREHENSIBLE. I refuse to believe that the next time I ring the bell to his Broadway studio, just south of Great Jones Street, he won’t be there—Great Jones Street where I ignored bad weather in February 1985 because I knew Keith was at one end of the block, Jean-Michel at the other, and Keith’s friend Kenny Scharf in between.1 Or summer 1984, when Houston was virtually Haring Boulevard, what with his hip-hop mural at the corner of Avenue D, his studio at Broadway, and various tags and images all in between. In 1987 and 1988 as well, I’d ring Keith’s bell, and take the elevator to his neat and gleaming studio, stand in wonder before new paintings in progress, and suddenly there he was, cool, lean, and humorous, eyebrows moving like the “action lines” that animate his figures, lips pursed for the punch line.

When Bird died, and James Dean too, in 1955, the world refused

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