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The Art Story Homepage Artists Keith Haring
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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

"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

Summary

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.
Keith Haring mural on the Northwest corner of Houston and Bowery in New York City
Keith Haring mural on the Northwest corner of Houston and Bowery in New York City

Saying, "The public has a right to art... Art is for everybody," Keith Haring created bold public art that packed a political punch. He intended, as he said, to "[break] down the barriers between high and low art."

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.
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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
Street and Graffiti ArtStreet and Graffiti Art
Influences on Artist
Influences on Artist
Keith Haring
Keith Haring
Years Worked: Late 1970s-1990
Influenced by Artist
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Kenny ScharfKenny Scharf
Matt GroeningMatt Groening
Shepard FaireyShepard Fairey
BanksyBanksy
SwoonSwoon

Personal Contacts

Jeffrey DeitchJeffrey Deitch
Kenny ScharfKenny Scharf

Movements

Street and Graffiti ArtStreet and Graffiti Art
Neo Pop ArtNeo Pop Art

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Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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First published on 07 Dec 2015. Updated and modified regularly. Information
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