“Spank the Monkey”

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

It’s fitting that on the exhibition floor beneath Baltic’s big show of street art—loosely ranging over two floors of the former flour mill—was a small display of early Keith Haring drawings. Haring, along with Jean-Michel Basquiat, was the first street artist to jump the curb and enter the gallery; since then graffiti and other work that falls under the catch-all label “street art” has—at least according to Pedro Alonzo and Baltic director Peter Doroshenko, the curators of “Spank the Monkey”—not only transcended the street to take up residence in the white cube but become the wallpaper of any number of video games (if the presence of Nintendo PlayStation kiosks in the gallery is anything to go by) and moved onto the shop floor (an early iteration of which was Haring’s Pop Shop).

Thus, the first objects the visitor encountered were three handbags created by Louis Vuitton in collaboration

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