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Where the Radiant Baby Was Born

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Things started to change around 1982. Steve Mass, proprietor of the significantly more profitable Mudd Club, hired away several regulars, Scharf and Haring among them. Magnuson left New York to be in movies. Haring’s energetic subway drawings found a following, and he was signed to Shafrazi. International acclaim followed. “Suddenly money got in the picture, and that changed everything,” Scharf says. “It created a bit of a panic with everyone. Like, ‘Oh boy, I better get on that train before that train is gone.’ Money kind of ruined it.” Then aids. (Haring died in 1990, at 31.)

When it comes to Keith, what Magnuson remembers most is his giving nature. “At the beginning, no one had any money, so he would trade or give his art away. One of our Club 57 core members recently sold a piece of his to pay off their house. We knew he would have been okay with that. He loved hanging out with Andy Warhol and all that, but he’d give you the shirt off his back. Usually the one with the radiant baby on it.”

Keith Haring 1978–1982
Brooklyn Museum. Through July 8.


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