In Pisa there's a huge mural by Keith Haring that is right downtown, yet off the tourist track (here are 5 ideas to discover the lesser-known side of Pisa). The story behind this mural may be more exciting than the mural itself, which is why we (at the social media team) have asked one of our friends to recall those days.
The "Tuttomondo" mural was painted by Keith Haring in 1989 and it is about world harmony. Each of the 30 figures, which occupy 180m² (1937.5ft²) of the south wall of the St. Anthony church, represents a different aspect of the peace in the world: the "human" scissors represent the common effort of Men to defeat the serpent (representing the evil), which is already eating the head of the figure next to it; the woman with a baby in her arms represents Maternity, and the two men supporting the dolphin refer to Man's relationship with nature.
Alessio, in the post below, tells of how he, as a high school student, participated in making this mural along with the great artist! Apparently, Keith drew the whole thing freehand and he then asked for the help of students and passersby, to paint it. While he was there it was a veritable party under the mural, with Keith painting everyone and everything that came by - Vespas, tshirts, whatever. Many people in Pisa have these objects at home. This large work, made in June 1989, was one of his last, as the artist died of AIDS the following February. February 16th 2010 has been the 20th anniversary of the death of Keith Haring. The date was marked by the administration of Pisa with, fairly, a party under the wall!
Friends who know me now are often surprised that, before my career in web marketing, I was a bit of an artist and I went to the artistic high school in Pisa. 1989 was my last year of high school and I had the great fortune of encountering a legend of modern art: Keith Haring, who the following year lost the fight against AIDS. If what he wanted was, as they say, to make art in an effort to change the world through positive influence, I’m sure that on those of us from the Istituto d’Arte di Pisa that had the fortune to participate in the painting of the “Tuttomondo” mural on the side of the convent in Piazza Sant’Antonio in Pisa, Keith left a strong and positive mark. This mark is one I think each of us feels when we pass by that piazza, a full 20 years later; I look for an excuse to go through there and to take a moment to look at that corner of the mural upon which I placed my brush.
I still wonder why this work – one of the few “lasting” works conceived by Keith Haring and his last before his death – is not on the usual tourist route in Pisa. This painting that Keith came up with thanks to a casual encounter with a student in New York, that involved so many young people, represents a strongly idealized world. If upon first glance it might seem just a colourful wall, take the time to find the figures that are clearly allegorical, and you’ll see Evil Overcome, Nature, Birth.
I wonder if Keith would have wanted his wall protected with that piece of plexiglass, or if 20 years ago he thought of it as a kind of “contemporary unfinished work” upon which, the following week, local urban artists might have had their say, added their creativity. Keith changed my world, and he definitely made it better. Every time I look at that mural, maybe because of the fact that I know it was his last work, even as I rush past the piazza that is both at the heart of Pisa and external to it, I always have positive thoughts. That’s the magic of Keith." Alessio Sbrana