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Thursday, July 18, 2013

When I was in London last month, I found a great magazine about ’80s music called Classic Pop.


I was excited to find a long article about the late graffiti artist Keith Haring in it, particularly because of this 1984 photo of Madonna in a Haring “boy toy” painted denim jacket.


Courtesy Classic Pop magazine.

This photo made me think a million thoughts. First of all, I’ve been all about ’80s-style painted denim jackets recently.  Plus, I’ve always lusted for the Keith Haring skirt Madonna wore in her “Borderline” video (the one in the photo looks the same, just hiked up). And right before London, I was in Paris, where I saw a fantastic and very comprehensive Keith Haring exhibit.


I highly recommend this exhibit.

I remember seeing Haring’s work in subway stations back in the day. He’d draw his radiant babies and barking dogs on empty black panels where advertising was supposed to be placed on the subway station walls.  It was amazing to see those pieces transported to a museum. One of those panels even came accompanied by the advertising poster that had been next to it, upon which someone had scribbled “Enough already, Haring!”  Ha! I was bummed out that there was no exhibition catalog for purchase. I particularly would have liked something with an image of the canvases Haring and Andy Warhol did for Madonna. My iPhone photo came out blurry, possibly because my hands were shaking when I saw those pieces. I’ve never forgotten Madonna’s “So What!” New York Post headline after the newspaper tried to embarrass her with old nude modeling photos. Here’s NPR to the rescue with an image of how Haring and Warhol turned that into art.


Click for photo source.

As a museum gift-shop consolation prize, I bought a bookmark with a Haring-i-fied penis on it as a souvenir …


Cheerful, isn’t it?

… and later ordered the Keith Haring Reebok sneakers I’d been studying for a while.


From my Instagram. Follow me at @wendybrandes.

But Haring had been on my mind even before the museum exhibit because — while gathering up childhood possessions at my parents’ house in May — I’d rediscovered this big “Free South Africa” Haring poster.


Included for size perspective: a MacBook Air, a pair of Haring sneakers, and FitzRoy the cat.

I wasn’t sure if this poster originally belonged to me or to my gorgeous sister, Terri Berry, but I made off with it anyway. The late ’80s protests against South Africa’s racist apartheid system made such a huge impression on me that my trip to South Africa earlier this year felt surreal. Back in the day, I would never have imagined that such a thing would ever be possible.


The brochures from Nelson Mandela’s house and the Apartheid Museum, both in Johannesburg.

Keith Haring printed out and gave away 20,000 of the Free South Africa posters in 1985, but as far as I know, one of us bought this poster later. Maybe Terri Berry remembers? Anyway, I just realized that today is Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday, so this post is serendipitously well-timed. Mandela is in the hospital, as he was when I was in South Africa a few months ago. When we drove by his house — one of his real, current homes, not the one that’s been turned into a museum — you could see the press sitting under a tent, waiting for news from the family on Mandela’s condition. I guess they’re all still rooted in that same spot!


I bought this addition to my extensive collection of country, state and city magnets in the Johannesburg airport.

Well, all I meant to do here was share a picture of Madonna and say, “Weren’t those painted denim jackets awesome?” but this ended up being a good reminder to me that some things in the world do change for the better over the years. As I’ve written before, it’s easy to think — pretty much at any given moment — that civilization is at an all-time low, but that’s provably not true if you know your history. Not only was apartheid overthrown thanks to people like Nelson Mandela, but people with AIDS — which killed Keith Haring at only 31 — can now live long lives thanks to advances in medication.


Wearing my Keith Haring-adorned AIDS Dance-a-thon sweatshirt from 1993. I have one from 1994 too. Click for original post.

To wrap things up with Madonna, you should know that she dedicated the New York area concert from her 1990 Blonde Ambition tour to her friend Keith Haring and donated the proceeds to the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR).

Last week, I blogged about the benefit concert she did for amfAR in 1987. She really stuck with the cause. Props to her!

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12 Responses to “Throwback Thursday: Madonna and Her Keith Haring Denim Jacket”

  1. déjà pseu says:

    I was actually working in NY during the Keith Haring subway art days. Good times. Loved his work then and love it now. You have some great pieces!!

  2. annemarie says:

    Ok, fair enough. I still hate her though.

    P.S: I am going to see Skylar Grey tomorrow for the sole reason that you wrote about her (otherwise I’d be ignorant of her existence)!

  3. annemarie says:

    Minneapolis– I’m so excited! I hope she brings it for her fellow Midwesterners (I’m not a Midwesterner, but hey).

  4. Fab. I like his (Witches?) collection with Westwood, my friend has a scarf. Did you see the retrospective at Brooklyn Museum last year? Fan-bloody-tastic.

    • WendyB says:

      As I once told a Brooklyn-dwelling friend of mine, I spend more time in Paris than in Brooklyn 😀
      So, no to the museum!

  5. stacy says:

    I really love this post 🙂
    NIce bookmark BTW!
    Don’t let FitzRoy ruin that poster!

    I just had to point out … “Bananarama — best girl band ever?” Um… NO. LOL