Haring Keith

Keith Haring was an artist and activist, his works often dealt with political and social issues – anti-crack, anti-apartheid, safe sex, homosexuality and AIDS –, and he shaped his own iconography. A well-known example of this is his mural "Crack is Wack" in New York. He became a celebrity in the 1980s New York art scene alongside other stand-out artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kenny Scharf. Haring dedicated himself to public art, and his work has become an iconic visual language of the 20th century.

In 1979, Haring studied at New York’s School of Visual Arts.  Inspired by the thriving alternative art scene, he moved in the circle of performance artists, musicians and graffiti writers, and organized exhibitions and performances. Impressed by his contemporaries and determined to make his work public, he began drawing with white chalk on subways and train stations throughout the city.

He made chalk outlines of figures, dogs and other stylized images on blank black advertising spaces. Later, in reverse mode, objects and figures emerged from this in thick black lines on white, or even a plain background. The simplicity of the line makes his drawings very direct and accessible. He confided to his journal in 1978, “the importance of movement is intensified when a painting becomes a performance. The performance (the act of painting) becomes as important as the resulting painting.”

Many of his works contain sexual references that became social activism, and he used the images to promote safe sex and AIDS awareness.

In 1986, he opened his “Pop Shop” with posters, shirts, and buttons featuring his work. He painted stage sets for concerts and theatres and designed watches for Swatch. At the same time, Haring had a thriving art practice and exhibited in many galleries and museums, as well as at international art events such as DOCUMENTA 7 in Kassel and the São Paulo Biennial.

Keith Haring was born in Pennsylvania in 1958, died in New York, USA in 1990. Diagnosed with AIDS in 1988, in 1989 he established the Keith Haring Foundation to support organizations and research in the field of AIDS and to to commercialize his work and make it permanently accessible. Although his career effectively spanned only a decade, it bridged very different worlds and left an indelible impression on a wide audience. His style continues to inspire many artists today.

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