Keith Haring Construction Fence: Mixed Reality Experience

Keith Haring’s admiration for graffiti art and his interest in semiotics—the theory of signs—influenced the development of his signature pictographic style. For Haring, art was a tool for communication with a wide audience.

In 1983, Haggerty Museum of Art Founding Director Dr. Curtis Carter invited Haring to create a mural on the fence that enclosed the museum’s construction site. The artist spent three days in Milwaukee under the eyes of a very interested public. This installation presents eight of the fence’s 24 sections. Haring painted both sides of the fence, sometimes with the help of Marquette University students.

One side of the fence features a lively and crowded composition of dancing and twisting figures or animal-figure hybrids, with "MARQUETTE" emblazoned on one end and a large, three-eyed smiling face on the other. The reverse side of the fence repeats two of Haring’s trademark characters: the Barking Dog and the Radiant Baby. Haring hoped that Construction Fence would “provide enjoyment, provoke discussion and energize people.”

The Marquette Visualization Lab has created an immersive, mixed reality experience based on Haring’s Construction Fence. To begin your experience, place the Microsoft HoloLens on your head, adjusting the wheel on the back of the headset until the HoloLens fits comfortably and the virtual image is centered in your field of vision. Then, while looking directly at one of the panels, follow the on-screen instructions to experience digital photographs and videos that contextualize this remarkable work of art.

Special thanks to Chris Larkee, a visualization technology specialist in Marquette University’s College of Engineering.

The Keith Haring Construction Fence Mixed Reality Experience is made possible through generous support from the Patrick and Beatrice Haggerty Foundation.