Just as Diego Rivera put brush to canvas to portray and decry social injustice, so did graffiti artist Keith Haring in the early 1980s. Haring was alarmed at the crack epidemic, and how it was wiping out a generation of African-American men in the South Bronx of New York City, so he created this now-famous mural.
Haring created Crack is Wack not for a gallery but on a handball court at 128th Street and 2nd Avenue. It was originally done without city permission, but was then put under the protection of the City Department of Parks. It still stands today.
Study the Crack is Wack mural. Then, write a 500-word paper using the following guidelines.
In the first part of your paper, use the art history operations to assess Crack is Wack as an artwork. Address the location of the piece (a handball court) as part of your judgment of the painting’s success.
In the second part of your paper, use art criticism and art historical methods to compare Crack is Wack to a Rivera mural like the one at the beginning of this section. How do both works address socio-political issues? How are they alike? How are they different?
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