Petersen Automotive Museum to Debut Keith Haring Land Rover Defender

The Petersen Automotive Museum got its hands on a Keith Haring for a while, and it’s about to show it off to the car and art loving public. A 1971 Land Rover Defender painted by Haring, the influential urban and New York pop art figure, will debut at the museum tomorrow before remaining on display this autumn.

Haring painted the classic Defender in 1983, and the curators at the Petersen made the temporary acquisition to further the museum’s effort to features not just art cars, but cars as art. The classic British off-roader is adjourned in Haring’s signature, unmistakable graffiti drawings — creating an almost tribal display of shapes examining ” birth, death, sexuality and war.”

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Haring tragically died of AIDS in 1990, but not before becoming a modern street art legend. His world famous Crack Is Wack mural at an uptown handball court was painted without city permission — but it’s now protected as a graffiti masterpiece.


As for the Defender, it’s a classic and a candidate for Britain’s automotive Mount Rushmore – if there could be such a thing. It debuted after WWII in 1947 as the original “Rover,” quickly gaining popularity with rural civilians, the military, explorers and anyone looking for a more rugged, all-purpose vehicle capable of taking on any environment. Recognized early on as a groundbreaking design for what would become SUVs, the Defender was known for its avoidance of unsprung weight by positioning wheels as close to the vehicle’s corners as possible.

The Haring Land Rover will remain on duty in the lobby of the Petersen until the end of the year.