Search Visual Sound

26 November 2014


Found the feature below about Keith Haring's 1984 trip to the Le Mans 24 Hours race on a French blog a while ago so thought it'd be worth updating and dropping on here. To read the full original post click here. All images sourced from there too. 

The French to English translation is a little bit out but kinda adds to it...

Mario Toran then artistic advisor of the Pays de Loire told me about an artists' association established in the region, specifically in the town of Le Mans. It named "Provisional Association" had previously the opportunity to organize artistic events within the 24 hours of Le Mans. I myself had created the same year an association called Asi, "Sport and Art Industry".

This early 1980s in France was that of all utopias. Free radio, free representation, world music, borders seemed to fall one after the other.

Art, like in the early twentieth century had to be a full participant in social and cultural developments. The culture was going to give everyone the opportunity to free themselves. To be free of any dominant thought to be only master of his cultural learning.

It was necessary, as in other great epochs of history, the first Olympiad, combining sport and culture, Bauhaus, rhyming productivity and aesthetics, abolishing borders, break down the walls of museums so that the Art is accessible everywhere and by all.

  24 hours of Le Mans, the most popular automobile race in the world, was a fantastic vehicle to try one of these famous reconciliations between art and sport, between artists and audiences. I proposed to create an encounter between two young international artists among the most popular of their generation, Keith Haring and François Boisrond. Their mutual pictorial style, simple, direct and effective should help to meet the greatest number.

The Provisional Association as Mario Toran were delighted by this project. This would be the first performance in France of Keith Haring. I went to New York to propose this project to Keith. I met him in his studio, a local wide walls completely covered his abounding graphics. 

Leaning against one of the walls, his bike. I quickly realized that New York had already been won by a deep need to ecology. The bike was no room in the heart of Keith Haring as the automobile and all its attendant nuisances. It was only in the light of the highly popular dimension of this international motor race characterized by its village, city within a city, bustling during 24 hours, day and night, for a delirious energy Keith eventually would accept the project.

The plan was to ask Keith Haring and Francois Boisrond design upstream of the visual manifestation declined in posters, t-shirts, stickers and badges, and to engage in a friendly competition of 24 hours of non-stop public drawings in a booth made available to artists in the heart of the village. My hope was that these visuals are the official media of the event.

 I imagined the artists working on some cars, their pictures taken on bilboards along the circuit for fade sequences chained for televisions. In fact, Haring visual and Boisrond were printed in parallel to the official visuals, the cars on which intervened artists were mini-cars for children.

Whatever, the meeting of two great artists were born on different sides of the Atlantic Ocean were held. The visuals were strong. Keith did not hesitate to caricature this event drawing in public fornicants cars under the haggard look of a stressed clock or stroumpf sexed race official. 

Some of his drawings were directly reflects the multiple scenes of fairground festivals spotted during the night, during our few escaped in the village of Le Mans 24 Hours, such as women with legendary barbed or snake women. 

 One of his drawings showed a man with clock head frantically taking the posterior side a winged woman, with multiple breasts and heads shaped cars, members fronts filled with monstrous claws, anonymous hands outstretched approaching the scene to caress, touch. Once again the ease of link Haring was surprising, giving even the salacious themes Combas a playful aspect that might have described as "fun and casual." 

 Francois Boisrond made drawing to drawing. Their style was competing, competing visual efficiency, pictographs equally refined and poetic, graphic evidence. "The obvious art", convened by the critic Hector Obal as the title of one of its flagship shows, was the appointment of this friendly challenge.

Keith lent itself completely to the game, not hesitating to draw on all media that children could bring him, caps, t-shirts, programs, or drawing with the son of Michel Sabatier, president of the association.

 One of his son, Benjamin then aged ten years, which is now in turn artist exhibited in Paris in the same gallery as Keith. Complicity with Francois Boisrond was, in the image of their mutual discretion, perfect. A simple harmony, almost natural, really open to the world.

Parallel to monitoring of this competition, I was doing to go back to Caen to help Yann Kersalé for his first expedition light on the extraordinary site that was the last blast furnace in activity of the Metallurgical Society of Normandy.

I was going to see Keith Haring few months for the exhibition I was organizing co-Otto Hahn at the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris, "5/5, Figuration Libre, France USA". Friendly to the catalog of the exhibition, Keith sent me a picture of him where we see, in his studio in New York, wear the t-shirt he had created for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

& here's what happened in the race that year...


& as a note, translated from original post...

If you have any documents regarding this meeting between Keith Haring and François Boisrond >>> thank you to contact Hervé Perdriolle