Keith Haring’s greatest masterpiece is hidden in an old men’s bathroom in NYC

You surely know Keith Haring’s work from his effervescent stickish figures decorating everything from floor-to-ceiling walls to T-shirts to coffee mugs to earrings. But inside the second-floor men’s bathroom at the LGBT Community Center on West 13th Street in downtown Manhattan you’ll find what many consider his most risque work ever.

Alexxa Gotthardt over at Artsy.net recently had a chance to check out the bathroom.

Gotthardt describes:

From just outside the bathroom, the corner of a painting was visible through a frosted glass bathroom door that’d been left ajar. It shows an erect penis emanating Haring’s signature squiggles.

Then you step inside and…

BOOM.

The installation, which features no shortage of cartoon penises, butts, sperms and scrotums, was painted by Haring over the course of several days in 1989 and is titled Once Upon a Time.

Goddhardt explains:

Haring titled the piece Once Upon a Time, a nod to the gay community’s halcyon days of free love. Over the course of several days, he covered every un-tiled surface of the bathroom with turgid, squirting penises of all sizes. Some are attached to buff male bodies tangled together in pleasure. Others float like happy clouds or hungry dragons. One impressively large specimen hovers over a line of small figures who are either dancing the conga or enjoying an orgy.

The bathroom isn’t actually a functioning lavatory. The sinks and toilets were removed decades ago and it was closed off for many years. It wasn’t until 2012 that the center restored the mural and opened it to the public for viewing.

Today, it serves as a monument to Haring and, as Glennda Testone, the LGBTQ Community Center’s Executive Director, says, his “vision of a world before AIDS—a celebration of gay male sexuality and resiliency at a time when mainstream America was quite terrified of gay male sexuality.”

Get GayCities Weekly Newsletter

Subscribe to GayCities for the latest travel & events

63 Comments

  • www.l2baron.com

    Pretty! This was an incredibly wonderful post.
    Thanks for supplying this information.

  • Lelio Vieira Carneiro Junior

    This design is wicked! You most certainly know how to keep a reader entertained.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to
    start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Great job. I really loved what
    you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!

  • door pops back

    It’s not my first time to pay a quick visit this web page, i am browsing this web page dailly and obtain pleasant information from
    here all the time.

  • uses compound interest

    It’s impressive that you are getting ideas from this article as well as from our dialogue made at this place.

  • garage doors

    Hello to every single one, it’s truly a nice for me to visit this web page, it
    includes helpful Information.

  • www.midoriva.com

    Howdy! This blog post could not be written much better! Looking at this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He continually kept preaching about this. I most certainly will send this post
    to him. Pretty sure he will have a very good read.
    Many thanks for sharing!

  • real estate flipping

    What’s up, everything is going well here and ofcourse every one is sharing
    information, that’s really good, keep up writing.

  • macau tourism

    Hi, after reading this remarkable post i am too cheerful to share my experience here with mates.

  • macau tourism offers

    At this moment I am ready to do my breakfast,
    later than having my breakfast coming over again to read additional news.