Art Nerd New York | Los Angeles

Keith Haring’s Bathroom

One of Keith Haring’s final goodbyes to New York before AIDS took him from this world in 1990 was perhaps one of his most personal, portraying the artist’s celebration of sexual freedom and an explicit and energetic commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Painted in 1989 just nine months before his death, the black and white mural snakes around the bathroom of The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center, its location chosen purposefully to reflect the sexual cruising of the gay community in the1980s.

By 1989, HIV and AIDS had taken hold of the young artist and much of his community, turning Haring into an outspoken activist advocating for safe sex. Despite his illness, Haring still celebrated sex, as evident in this explicit, and intimate mural. His signature bold-lined figures contort in sexual delight, with a multitude of penises, orifices and bodily fluids spewing in the shape of Haring’s typical male figures. The massive piece reeks of orgasmic pleasure, but its title, Once Upon a Time, leaves a melancholy connotation, perhaps looking to the days of sexual “freedom” before the consequences of the AIDS epidemic devastated New York.

Although the space has been converted into a meeting room, the mural still holds its weight in sexual fantasy regardless of function, and has been lovingly restored by The Center.

What: Once Upon a Time Mural

Who: Keith Haring

Where: LGBT Community Center, 208 West 13th Street

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  1. […] total contrast from the penis-heavy mural at the LGBT Community center, Keith Haring painted this aqua themed mural in 1987 for the public pool. Classic Haring dudes […]

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