Friday, June 18th, 2021

Kenny Scharf : When World’s Collide


The pop artist Kenny Scharf is a survivor.  All his good friends and fellow artists in NY’s East Village such as Keith Haring, Jean Michel Basquiat, and Andy Warhol succumbed to AIDS in the 1980’s.  It sadly  marked the end of one of the most exciting periods of contemporary art in the form of street art and gratfitti that they were all masters at.

This new rather timid documentary co-written and directed by Scharf’s daughter  gently tiptoes around the artist that so many people has wrongly assumed had also died.  The reality was that the fickle market of the  90’s were not kind to Scharf or his very stylised art and so he disappered off people’s radar as he focused in his family and survival.

With some excellent archival footage we see Scharf and his best friend/roommate Keith Haring together.  The two artists were very close and had differing styles,  and their competive streaks came out when Haring’s subway drawings gave him the very first flush of fame and fortune.  Then Basquiet’s star took off leaving Scharf trying to catch up.

There is an interesting suggestion about how much did the death of these two contributed to the continuing success of their body of work.  It’s food for thought, although we personally believe that regardless, they completely deserve their place in art history.

We know that Scharf was a prominent member of this group, but we started to question how this extremely handsome man had kept his virginity in this tight group of gay men.  Scharf makes reference at the end of the film when he clumsily explains that sexually he may be ‘fluid’.

What Malia Scharf shows us insead is a devoted family man, father and grandfather and she avoids steering the dialogue to any thing too personal.  Its a wasted opportunity because as we learn a lot about his art, we learn so little about the man himself.  Its a pity because when he faces the whole painful subject of AIDS and losing his friends, we suddennly see another side of Scharf that she should have explored more.

Visually the film is nothing less than stunning as we see plenty of his old and new work. Its listening to Scharf talk about them with such passion and pride that becomes the highlight of this profile.  Also listening to the very impressive array of assembled talking heads sharing their views  this idiosynntric artist is compelling too.  At the end we agree with those of them who recognise Scharf as an artist


Posted by queerguru  at  21:02

Genres:  documentary

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