Keith Haring (USA 1958 ) is an American Pop Art artist renowned for his Graffiti style art of interconnected figures in animated, cartoon-like compositions. Born in 1958 in Pennsylvania, Haring was exposed to the art of cartooning at a young age from his father Allen Haring who was an amateur cartoonist while being influenced by most children at that time from cartoons by Walt Disney, Dr Seuss, Charles Schulz and the characters from Looney Tunes.
Haring briefly studied commercial art at Pittsburgh’s Ivy School of Professional Art from 1976 to 1978. It was when he was at Pittsburgh Center of the Arts that he explored the art of Jean Dubuffet, Jackson Pollock and Mark Tobey. Haring held his first solo exhibition at the center in 1978. He later moved to New York to study painting at the School of Visual Arts. In New York, Haring increased the engagement of his work with public spaces, creating his unique style of paintings in subway stations with its bold lines, strong saturated colours, active figures that carried the message of love, death, life, harmony and unity. Haring’s signature images captivated the public through an eclectic mix of part human, part animal figures, barking dog, radiant baby and figures with heads of televisions. By 1982, Keith Haring has established himself as part of Pop Culture with his art and his associations with other iconic pop culture icons from Madonna to Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol who was pivotal in Haring achieving international fame and success. With his emerging fame, Haring began travelling extensively creating murals in Melbourne, Sydney and painted in Rio de Janerio, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Despite his death in 1990, Haring’s legacy still lives on in our public consciousness. His works could be found from top international museums to music album covers, fashion line of designer Vivienne Westwood and even as labels on Chateau Mouton Rothschild wine. Like Warhol, Haring has transient the line between high art and commercial art making his art available for astute collectors to the masses such as through his retail store in 1986 – the Pop Shop in the trendy SoHo neighbourhood of New York. As another avenue to reach to the public, Haring also conducted numerous art workshops for children.
Keith Haring died of AIDS related complications at the age of 31 on February 16, 1990. Since his death, Haring has been the subject of several international retrospectives. The work of Keith Haring can be seen today in the exhibitions and collections of major museums around the world.