In Discussion: Dean Sunshine on Pop Art & Keith Haring

Dean Sunshine is known in the arts community as a street artist aficionado. He began his blog ‘Land of Sunshine’ in 2010 with a mural by Keith Haring featured in the first post. Sunshine has maintained a deep interest in Keith Haring’s life and practice. I am delighted to share with you an interview with Dean Sunshine about his passion and knowledge of the artist.

Hannah: What is your background in the arts and what initially sparked your interest in the work of Keith Haring?

Lot 83 KEITH HARING (1958-1990) Pop Shop I 1987
Lot 83, KEITH HARING (1958-1990), Pop Shop I 1987, Prints & Multiples Auction, November 2020 Estimate: $15,000-20,000

Dean: I knew of Keith Haring back in the day and actually visited the Pop Shop in New York back in 1987 while I was living there at the ripe age of 19. His book ‘Art In Transit‘ was the first book on street art that I bought, and the first post on my blog over ten years ago features his mural in Collingwood.

Hannah: Tell us about your involvement with the Haring and Basquiat exhibition at the NGV, including the ‘Haring and Basquiat: In Tribute’ mural?

Dean: I previously worked with the NGV organising a satellite project as part of ‘Melbourne Now’ in 2013 called ‘All Your Walls’. Through that experience, I met and worked with David Hurlston, senior curator of Australian art at NGV and we got along really well; in fact he even wrote the foreword for my second book ‘Street Art Now’ in 2014. It was David that suggested getting me involved with this project – he knew I had the experience in the Melbourne street art scene, had the relationships with the artists, and he recognized my passion for Keith Haring’s work.

Hannah: Our upcoming auction at Leonard Joel features ‘Pop Shop: I’ by Haring, can you tell us your thoughts on this particular print and a bit about the context in which it was created?

Dean: The Pop Shop prints date back to 1987 – and of course, I kick myself for not purchasing this when I was in New York back then. There are four prints as part of the series – this piece titled ‘Best Buddies’ is my favourite, showing two figures embracing – so simple and so filled with joy.

Hannah: How do you think Haring may have reacted to the current international street art scene, and how it has evolved?

Dean: I think he would have loved that there is so much art on the streets freely available to all without having to buy tickets to an institution or to enter a gallery. I doubt he would have ever imagined there being so many large scale murals spread out all over the world and I believe on some levels the global street art movement owes a lot to Keith Haring.

Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat
Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat Tribute, Easy Street, Collingwood, arranged by Dean Sunshine and P1xels. Artwork by Heesco, Conrad Bizjak, Chehehe, Ling, DVATE, Phibs, Sabeth and Duke.

Hannah: What are some of the themes in Haring’s works that you are personally drawn to?

Dean: The Radiant Child has always been a favourite of mine and is especially dear to me these days as I am raising a young family.

Hannah: What are some of your favourite murals/artworks by Haring?

Dean: The Melbourne mural in Collingwood is closest to my heart.

Hannah: You have a successful blog and have released two books, is there anything that we can expect in the future from you?

Dean: Right now, I am working on curating an exhibition on Melbourne street art at the Australian embassy in Buenos Aries.

Thank you to Dean Sunshine for chatting with us! Explore more from Dean at his blog here.


– Hannah Ryan, Prints & Multiples Manager
November 2020