Keith Haring: A Tribute

Keith Haring was an artist who emulated the youthful 1980's art scene in New York and made a name for himself with his playful, cartoonish drawings. Within his universe, objects, lines, and colors were transformed into playful, happy, cruel and tragic moments. Haring knew early on that he wanted to develop his artistic abilities and he knew he had to be in New York.

Keith Haring in front of a subway drawing, 1983

Keith Haring and Madonna, 1985

Keith Haring finishing a subway drawing, 1984

Art should be something that liberates your soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further.
— Keith Haring

Haring arrived in New York in 1978 as a scholarship student at the School of Visual Arts. He was particularly inspired by the Graffiti he experienced in the subways and began to find his own individual style. Haring noticed that throughout the subway platforms there were black spaces where advertisements were supposed to be placed. He immediately knew this was the perfect canvas to get his message across to the masses. Using white chalk he would draw every time he saw an empty panel.

Haring achieved international recognition through several group and solo exhibitions. His first Soho solo show was held at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery and was regarded as extremely popular. As Haring's popularity grew so did his anxiety with dealing his own works of art. Soon he took up representation with Tony Shafrazi which freed him to focus on his work. Haring's international success began in 1984 when he traveled around the world painting wall murals in Australia, Brazil, Paris, and Italy. For Haring, art was intended for everyone and public wall murals were a way for him to break down the barriers between the high/ low audiences.

Keith Haring in his studio, 1985

Keith Haring and Brooke Shields photographed by Richard Avedon

Untitled, 1983

Untitled, 1984

Untitled, 1985

Untitled, 1984

Haring's work in the mid-late 1980's showcased the theme of AIDS, mainly because it had a heavy influence in his personal life. After experiencing his friends passing away year after year, Haring himself was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988. The diagnosis didn't come as a surprise to Haring but prompted him to work twice as hard and twice as fast.

Throughout his career, Haring devoted his time and energy to several charities, hospitals, and children's day care centers. Before his death he established the Keith Haring Foundation to continue his charitable support of children's and AIDS-related organizations. Haring's work can be seen in exhibitions and collections of major museums around the world.

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