Keith Haring’s Pop Art Language – contemporary artist biography

Keith Haring
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‘People saw it as something that wasn’t really by one artist but was a vocabulary open to anyone.’

This is what Keith Haring himself said about his work. And this vocabulary consists of simple, almost primitive, archetypal images, strung together in complete sentences. It is this communicative quality that makes Keith Haring’s art both unique and universally understood. In his day as well as today, Keith Haring’s art is the language of choice to communicate popular culture.

Keith Haring Biography

Keith Haring
Untitled (Mother & Child Center), 1986 (holding baby)
Keith Haring

Artist Keith Haring was born May 1958 and grew up in Pennsylvania, US. It was already in his early childhood, that Haring was identified as someone who would become an artist. A rebellious one.

Haring’s dad was a amateur cartoonist. Influenced by dad and Disney, the experimental young Keith made his own cartoon-inspired art.

Andy Warhol’s personality as well as his artwork wer key in developing Keith Haring’s awareness of modern art, offering food for thought on how to manage his own art. Warhol was most important, but not the only inspiration for Haring. There were many other artists who inspired him, ranging from Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Christo, Dubuffet, to Pierre Lechinsky.

After taking courses in art and design, Haring had his first important show in Pittsburgh Arts and Crafts Center. In this first art show, elements that would become central to the artist’s style later on, were already apparent: small, inter-connected abstract human and animal figure drawings, patterns and shapes.

Subsequently, he had had many art exhibitions in Pittsburg before moving to New York in 1978. In New York, he joined the School of Visual Art and experimented with multicultural urban and gay themes. He became particularly inspired by the hipness, spontaneity and calligraphic quality of graffiti in New York subways. Keith began a period of working obsessively, and the subways were a common environment. He learned to draw in public.

art by Keith Haring
Retrospect, 1989
Keith Haring

Keith Haring Shows

art by Keith Haring

Haring’s first one-man show was at the Shafrazi gallery in New York in 1982. For this show, he recreated a club-like environment and this is when his popularity began. For subsequent years, Haring enjoyed world-wide recognition. He was invited to hold international shows in The Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, UK, Germany, France, Japan, and throughout the United States.

contemporary art
Theater Der Welt
Keith Haring

In April 1986, Keith Haring opened ‘The Pop Shop’, a retail store in New York. He explains his philosophy in selling his art through a commercial venue: “My work was starting to become more expensive and more popular within the art market. Those prices meant that only people who could afford big art prices could have access to the work. The pop shop makes it accessible.” He sold 50 ct Keith Haring buttons as well as silk screen Haring t-shirts. Prices and artworks went up from there. The artist bypassed critics and curators and went straight to the public with this initiative.

art Keith Haring

In 1988, Haring was diagnosed with AIDS. While he died in 1990, Haring’s reputation has continued to grow, and his work is still widely admired today.

copyright 2008

What to Want From Santa this year? The Latest Keith Haring book

Keith Haring Pop Art bookKeith Haring Pop Art book
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The latest book “Keith Haring” on his famous artwork is written by Elizabeth Sussman.
‘In 1990,when Keith Haring died of AIDS at the age of 31, The New York Times detailed a “meteoric career” that was built around a “cartoonish universe inhabited by crawling children, barking dogs and dancing figures, all set in motion by staccatolike lines.” ‘ stated their publisher.

This volume, published in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the artist’s birth, serves as a survey of some of Haring’s best known works—taking the viewer through the three stylistic turning points of his short yet impressive career.

First, we are presented with the cartooning influences,where thick bold lines are laid down with ink on paper or drawn directly onto empty subway posters. Next come Haring’s most iconic works, fully developed by the mid-1980s,when he began to work directly on canvas. Finally,we come to work that hints at Haring’s own social awareness and fight against AIDS—the depiction of intentionally unfinished canvases and devil-like figures, for example.

Keith Haring – The Complete Gift Catalog

Besides his latest book and the contemporary art prints featured in this article, the following contemporary art books and unique Keith Haring art gifts are available for purchase.

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Monkey Puzzle, 1988
Keith Haring

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