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See the 1971 Land Rover painted by Keith Haring at the Petersen Automotive Museum now

by Kevin Ferguson | Off-Ramp®

The car, a 1971 Series 3 Land Rover, was unveiled last month at the Petersen Automotive Museum, where staff says it will be on display until the end of the year, at least. Kevin Ferguson/KPCC

At the Petersen Automotive Museum in Mid-Wilshire, you can see a newly unveiled work by the late artist Keith Haring.

It's a 1971 Series 3 Land Rover, painted army green and covered front to back by Haring's signature cookie-cutter people, crawling babies and animals.

"We were so lucky — the owner of the car actually approached us," says Leslie Kendall, chief curator at the Petersen. "And it was absolutely a no-brainer to say 'Yes, we'd love it.'"

Haring is the rare contemporary artist whose reputation precedes him — his work first gained attention when it appeared on walls in New York subway platforms and trains before taking over galleries and museums in Manhattan and beyond.

Kendall says the museum isn't sure about the Land Rover's backstory, or how Haring ended up painting it — Haring did write "Montreux Jazz Festival  '83" on the side — but that the car stands on its own as a work of fine art.

"What caught my eye about this particular piece is how nicely it's done," says Kendall. "A lot of artists are very tempted to overdo it — if they're going to paint a car, man, they paint the car! Every inch of it. But what Keith Haring's done, is he's adapted his own style to fit the car, to make it make sense for the car."

Kendall went on:

"I think what's interesting is an artist based in New York choosing a means of transportation to express himself. He did start out doing his work on subways on the East Coast, and now he picks a fairly iconic means of transport in Los Angeles, too," says Kendall. "It's a little unexpected, but that makes it all the more interesting."

The car was unveiled last month. Kendall says it will be on display until the end of the year, at least.

Correction: An earlier version of this story was mistaken about the year of the Land Rover. KPCC regrets the error.

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