Keith Haring Exhibited in Africa for the First Time

The exhibition in on view at Fondation Zinsou in central Benin.

Keith Haring, Growing #2 (1988). Courtesy of artnet Galleries.

Keith Haring’s work is currently on view in Africa for the first time ever, at the Zinsou Foundation in Cotonou, Benin.

The exhibition “Keith Haring in Cotonou” opened to the public in the foundation’s three-story space in central Benin on November 14. The show is being put on with the West African Foundation for Contemporary Art and features 40 Haring works from the collection of dealer Enrico Navarra, with support from the the Keith Haring Foundation.

The Zinsou Foundation—created by Benin’s outgoing prime minister Lionel Zinsou and his wife Marie-Christine Zinsou—jumped at the chance to bring these works to Africa for the first time.

Haring—who would now be 58 if he were alive—will surely be a great draw to the free museum, not only thanks to his international renown but also for the connections between his work and art made in the African continent. It is not so unusual for African art to be exhibited in relation to its influence on Western art and artists but this exhibition of Haring’s in Benin is a first.

During the exhibition’s vernissage on November 13, many visitors took to Instagram to mark the occasion.

“This exhibition is an exceptional chance because it is a loan from Enrico Navarra,” Marie-Cécile Zinsou, told La Nouvelle Tribune. ”This is a collection of 40 absolutely unheard-of works that were presented in London, New York, and Tokyo and it was time for them to be presented in Africa. It is a first in Africa,” she added.

This is the Zinsou Foundation’s second collaboration with Navarra. In 2007 they put on an exhibition of 70 drawings by Jean-Michel Basquiat titled “Basquiat in Cotonou.” Chaired by Lionel Zinsou’s daughter Marie-Cécile, the foundation also has a museum in Ouidha (Juda).

“Keith Haring in Cotonou” is on view at Fondation Zinsou, Benin, until January 7, 2017.

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