simply as a graffiti artist who used vacant advertising boards in the New
York subway as his canvas in the early 1980s, Keith Haring (1959-1990)
provoked debate on the street and within the exclusive art establishment
with his radiant comic figures and increasingly political messages.
Arriving in New York in 1978 to study at
the School of Visual Arts, Haring was inspired by the East Village club
scene identified with punk and rap music, breakdancing and graffiti as a
public statement of personal expression. Working with remarkable speed and
clarity, Haring's images convey a conspicuous energy in the brevity of his
line, bold color relationships conveying his early interest in graphic
design, and simplified figurative forms.
As he became prominent with the gallery
and museum world, Haring provoked additional debate by purposely
commercializing his own work, reproducing his signature figures on an
array of products and opening his own retail stores including Wham Bam in
Miami and the Pop Shop in New York. Success afforded him the opportunity
to control his own market and remain independent, crucial to his vision of
From 1985 until his death in 1990 from
complications due to AIDS, Haring concentrated much of his extraordinary
energy on visual political messages, particularly focusing on generating
action and conveying the dangers and effects of AIDS.