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Artists Keith Haring
Keith Haring Photo

Keith Haring

American Graffiti Artist, Sculptor, and Muralist

Movements and Styles: Graffiti Art, Neo Pop Art

Born: May 4, 1958 - Reading, Pennsylvania

Died: February 16, 1990 - New York, New York

Keith Haring Timeline

Quotes

"Art is life and life is art."
Keith Haring
"...I think that in a way some [critics] are insulted because I didn't need them. Even [with] the subway drawings I didn't go through any of the 'proper channels' and succeeded in going directly to the public and finding my own audience...I bypassed them and found my public without them. They didn't have the chance to take credit for what I did. They think that they have the role of finding the artist...and then teaching the public....I sort of stepped on some toes..."
Keith Haring
"The person who created these works certainly experienced his share of anxiety and euphoria, and certainly cared deeply about the connections between living things, but he also cared about the connections between color and line, open and defined space, chaos and clarity. He put all his experience of the world into his art - in the hope that he could communicate at both a visceral and intellectual level with the broadest possible audience".
Julia Gruen, Director, Keith Haring Foundation
"Keith made works that can hang in museums alongside masterpieces by Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol and hold their own as art-historically important pieces. But there's also the art world you see on the streets, and Keith helped make that happen. He took what he learned from Warhol and connected it to street culture-punk-rock posters, graphics on sports equipment, kids' clothing, the music scene, and the club scene-and created a counter art world."
Jeffery Deitch
"He has been misunderstood by more conservative people in the art establishment who can't see past the Haring images on kids' T-shirts and knapsacks and acknowledge his drawings and paintings as works in the tradition of the modern masters. In the past few years, he has begun to be accepted and valued on a par with other major contemporary artists. But there's still a gap. You don't walk in and see a Keith Haring hanging prominently in most American museums. I think that the art establishment has a hard time reconciling someone who is a great painter or sculptor and also really embraces popular culture."
Jeffery Deitch

"In all my work there is some degree of content that is more obvious, communicating a specific or a general idea that people will get. But a lot of times the work is ambiguous enough that it can interpreted by whoever."

Keith Haring Signature

Synopsis

Keith Haring joined a long but sporadic lineage of 20th-century artists who brought elements of popular culture, "low art" and non-art elements into the formerly exclusive "high art" spaces of museums and galleries. He drew on the techniques and locales of street-based art such as graffiti and murals, employed bright and artificial colors, and kept imagery accessible in order to grab the eyes and minds of viewers and get them both to enjoy themselves and to engage with important concerns. Along with his artist contemporaries Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kenny Scharf, Haring opened the field of possibility for how seemingly simple and even cartoony elements by self-taught or less-schooled artists might be appreciated.

Key Ideas

Haring's deceptively simple imagery and text provided poignant and cutting cultural commentary on issues including AIDS, drug addiction, illicit love, and apartheid. As both an artist and an activist he established that depicting serious issues could be fun or at least lively when communicated through highly cartoony images and fresh and vivid choices of colors.
Haring's commitment to clean lines and simple images gave new life to figuration in painting, in contrast to the more abstract and conceptual approaches of the previous generation, and the more expressionistic gestural painting of his contemporaries.
Haring provided proof of the possibilities of using public sites that were not usually dedicated to art to share artistic and political messages to multiple audiences. He lent street art credibility and legitimacy and took it into fine art galleries and museums, inspiring a new generation of street-to-gallery artists.

Biography

Keith Haring Photo

Childhood

Keith Haring was born on May 4, 1958 in Reading, Pennsylvania, but grew up in nearby Kutztown, Pennsylvania. He discovered a love for drawing at an early age, learning basic cartooning skills from his father who drew comics for a hobby. Like many children of his generation he was an admirer of the popular animation of Disney, Dr. Seuss and Looney Toons.

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Keith Haring Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Keith Haring
Interactive chart with Keith Haring's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Pierre AlechinskyPierre Alechinsky
Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso
Joan MirĂ³Joan MirĂ³
Andy WarholAndy Warhol

Personal Contacts

Jean-Michel BasquiatJean-Michel Basquiat
Kenny ScharfKenny Scharf
Andy WarholAndy Warhol

Movements

Neo-ExpressionismNeo-Expressionism
Graffiti ArtGraffiti Art

Influences on Artist
Keith Haring
Keith Haring
Years Worked: Late 1970s-1990
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Kenny ScharfKenny Scharf
Matt GroeningMatt Groening
Shepard FaireyShepard Fairey
BanksyBanksy
SwoonSwoon

Personal Contacts

Jeffrey DeitchJeffrey Deitch
Kenny ScharfKenny Scharf

Movements

Graffiti ArtGraffiti Art
Neo Pop ArtNeo Pop Art

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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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