Los Angeles’ Petersen Automotive Museum has dusted off a special 1971 Land Rover Defender for its public debut… more than 30 years after it was custom painted by famed New York artist Keith Haring. Following unveiling at the end of July – featuring an introduction by car and art collector Adam Lindemann and Haring’s friend and fellow artist Kenny Scharf – the Haring Land Rover Defender is on display in the lobby of the museum’s first floor through the end of the year.
Since reopening last year in its striking new building on Wilshire Boulevard’s Museum Row, the Petersen Automotive Museum has boldly asserted its mission to display automobiles as works of art. First, it curated a room filled with BMW art cars painted by David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, Andy Warhol and others. Now, Petersen’s newest exhibition spotlights just one vehicle: the temporary acquisition of the Haring Defender.
Keith Haring’s work has become instantly recognizable in the years since his untimely death in 1990. His use of primitive shapes and color to express themes of birth, death, sexuality, and war was born out of the New York street art movement of the early 1980s. A contemporary of Kenny Scharf and Jean Michel Basquiat, Haring first began to develop his style by sketching in chalk on blackboards in the subway before working in more visible areas on a larger scale.
“Keith Haring had such a unique and recognizable style, one that has become beloved by countless people around the world,” said Petersen Chief Marketing Officer Adam Langsbard. “He used his art to speak for people who didn’t have a voice, and we at the Petersen are absolutely honored to be able to display such a unique work. We can’t wait for people to experience this wonderful piece of art.”
The Land Rover is a cultural icon in its own right, conceived by the Rover Company in 1947 as a rugged off-roader capable of military, civilian and agrarian roles. The Land Rover Series I entered production in 1948 and found a market in the UK and abroad in both standard and station wagon body configurations. The vehicle evolved over the course of a quarter century and in 1971 the Series III debuted with a refined interior and increased power.