Keith Haring United States, 1958-1990


Keith Haring (b. 1958, Reading, Pennsylvania; d. 1990, New York, New York) was a contemporary American artist best known for his trademark rhythmic drawings of highly contoured forms. Having learned basic cartooning skills at an early age from his father, he enrolled in the Ivy School of Professional Art, Pittsburgh in 1976. He soon abandoned commercial work and instead moved to New York to attend the School of Visual Arts. There, Haring found the community that would inspire his oeuvre, befriending contemporary artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kenny Scharf while reveling in the energy and spirit of New York in the 1980s. Highly influenced by artists such as Jean Dubuffet and Pierre Alechinsky, Haring created a new kind of graphic expression focused on the supremacy of a singular line. Driven by his belief in the power of art as cultural commentary, Haring sought out public sites to share his artistic and political messages with a wider audience. Haring produced more then 50 public works between 1982 and 1989, through which he encouraged public discourse on topics such as AIDS, drug addiction, love, and apartheid. He is widely recognized for his use of bold lines, vibrant color, and signature visual lexicon of dancing faceless figures and religious motifs. Following his diagnosis with AIDS in 1988, Haring focused the rest of his life on social activism. Haring has been the subject of several recent international retrospectives and his work is held in acclaimed institutions including the Art Institute of Chicago; The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Musée National d'art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.