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Keith Haring

(1958 - 1990)

Celebrated pop artist, Keith Haring, is known for his interconnected use of abstract shapes and graffiti art.

Keith Haring was born on May 4, 1958 to parents Joan and Allen Haring. He grew up in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, as the eldest of four siblings.

Art began to play a central role in Haring’s life from a young age. As a child, he drew cartoon characters, and as a teenager he began to develop an awareness of modern art.

After high school, between 1976-78, Haring enrolled in the Ivy School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh.

In 1978, Haring moved to New York City at the school of visual arts. Elements that were central to his style were beginning to emerge at this time, such as the use of abstract shapes.

The 1980’s was a busy decade in Keith Haring’s career. In 1981 he made his first of many subway chalk drawings, curated drawing and graffiti art exhibitions, had a solo exhibition, and painted his first mural in a school yard.

In the following years, his mural paintings became international as he painted them in Sydney, Melbourne, Rio de Janeiro, Minneapolis, and Manhattan.

Haring’s career continued to rise. In 1985, he had simultaneous exhibitions throughout New York City and France. During this year, he also designed sets for the Brooklyn Academy of Music and for the Ballet National de Marseilles in France, and designed four watches for Swatch USA.

Haring stopped drawing his infamous subway art in 1986. It was also during this year that he opened the Pop Shop, a store selling Haring products, and he painted many outdoor murals on the Berlin Wall in Amsterdam.

Haring was closely affiliated with many causes and campaigns. He printed and distributed Free South Africa posters in 1981, he participated in the Art Against AIDS exhibition in 1986, and he donated his Easter at the White House mural to the children’s hospital in Washington, D.C. in 1987.

As Haring himself was suffering from the disease, he engaged in a widespread campaign for AIDS awareness by establishing the Keith Haring Foundation in 1989. This is a charitable organization that contributes to a wide range of social concerns.

Finally, on February 16, 1990, Keith Haring succumbed to the very disease that he was dedicated to raising awareness about. His Foundation and his artwork, however, now remain to complete this mission.

Movements associated with Keith Haring:
Modern, Mural painting, Pop art


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