Keith Haring′s Line

Race and the Performance of Desire

Book Pages: 168 Illustrations: 25 color illustrations Published: September 2020

Author: Ricardo Montez

Art and Visual Culture, Gender and Sexuality > LGBTQ Studies, Theater and Performance > Performance Art

In the thirty years since his death, Keith Haring—a central presence on the New York downtown scene of the 1980s—has remained one of the most popular figures in contemporary American art. In one of the first book-length treatments of Haring’s artistry, Ricardo Montez traces the drawn and painted line that was at the center of Haring’s artistic practice and with which the artist marked canvases, subway walls, and even human flesh. Keith Haring’s Line unites performance studies, critical race studies, and queer theory in an exploration of cross-racial desire in Haring’s life and art. Examining Haring’s engagements with artists such as dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones, graffiti artist LA II, and iconic superstar Grace Jones, Montez confronts Haring’s messy relationships to race-making and racial imaginaries, highlighting scenes of complicity in order to trouble both the positive connotations of inter-racial artistic collaboration and the limited framework of appropriation. 


Keith Haring's Line is a brilliant, engaging, and necessary book. Centering the story of Haring's line on the queer people of color with whom Haring collaborated, Ricardo Montez gifts the reader with an intensely productive vocabulary for naming and exploring the relational dynamics that define the practices of a number of artists working across incommensurate forms of difference. Montez's writing does justice to so many neglected figures (like Juan Dubose and graffiti artist LA II) and importantly situates Haring's practice in relationship to performance-centered scenes of the 1970s and 1980s. This is not only the definitive take on Haring, it is the book on Haring's world.” — Jennifer Doyle, author of Hold It Against Me: Difficulty and Emotion in Contemporary Art

“A well-written and carefully elaborated study of Keith Haring and the cultural politics of race and desire that spans beyond Haring. Ricardo Montez's careful reading of different ‘scenes’ of interracial desire allows the reader to get close to the nuances of the power dynamics played out within them. Original and compelling.” — Gavin Butt, author of Between You and Me: Queer Disclosures in the New York Art World, 1948-1963

"Keith Haring’s Line is neither a biography nor a general assessment of Haring’s work as an artist. Rather, it is a queer musing upon the intersections of sex and race in Haring’s work. . . . Montez writes with authority about photography, art, and queer theory, but the passion of this book lies in its interrogation of sex and race." — Dennis Altman, Gay and Lesbian Review

"Keith Haring’s Line exudes political and aesthetic friction, impressively threading many entry points and tactics. Following in the legacy of his late mentor José Esteban Muñoz (to whom the book is dedicated), Montez brings deliberate specificity to the ubiquitous figure of Haring. By exposing and avoiding the trappings of linearity, singularity, and script, Montez is instead able to present vulnerability, fluidity, and flesh." — Danilo Machado, Hyperallergic


Availability: In stock
Price: $23.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Ricardo Montez is Associate Professor of Performance Studies, Schools of Public Engagement, The New School.

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Illustrations  ix
Acknowledgments  xi
Introduction. The Call of the Impossible Figure  1
1. Desire in Transit: Writing It Out in New York City  31
2. "Trade' Marks: LA II and a Queer Economy of Exchange  61
3. Theory Made Flesh?: Keeping Up with Grace Jones  83
4. Drips, Rust, and Residue: Forms of Longing  109
Notes  135
Bibliography  141
Index  145
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top