Keith Haring 1958-1990
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Keith Haring was an American artist and social activist whose art responded to the New York City street culture of the 1980s. He studied painting at the Manhattan's School of Visual Arts. He was heavily influenced by graffiti art and rose to fame through his public display of work in local subway stations. He was in league with other rising artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kenny Scharf, and Andy Warhol. Haring achieved international fame when he was commissioned to paint large murals in Melbourne, Sydney, Rio and the Paris Museum of Modern Art. He was also celebrated by the pop culture industry and designed a jacket for Madonna's "Like a Virgin" performance on the TV dance program Solid Gold.
When asked about the commercialism of his work, Haring responded, "I could earn more money if I just painted a few things and jacked up the price. My shop is an extension of what I was doing in the subway stations, breaking down the barriers between high and low art." He responded to epidemics such as the use of crack-cocaine, the AIDS outbreak and abuse of alcohol and cigarettes. His art is charged with responses to war, sex and life/death. Haring was openly gay and an advocate of safe sex, yet he was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988.
Shortly after Haring was diagnosed he established the Haring Foundation, which provided funding and imagery to AIDS organizations and children's programs. The foundation expanded public awareness for Haring's work through exhibitions, publications and the licensing of his images. As his diagnosis was public, he felt obligated to participate in interviews and continue creating art. Haring died in 1990, the same year Madonna announced that her first stop in New York on her Blond Ambition World Tour would benefit AIDS charities in Haring's memory.
Keith Haring's work is featured in the permanent collections of the MoMa in New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Bass Museum in Miami, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Ludwig Museum in Cologne and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.
Related Categories: East Village Art, Graffiti/Street Art, Sexual Identity, Comic/Cartoon, Love, Medical/Health, Use of Wall, Large-Scale Sculpture, United States, Painting.