Keith Haring U.S.A., 1958-1990
"Art is nothing if you don't reach every segment of the people." - Keith Haring
Keith Haring was one of the key members of a group of avant-garde New York-based artists who helped to redefine the boundaries of Modern art in the 1980s. His work run parallel to that of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kenny Scharf, and other 1980s artists and engages with a variety of media and techniques, such as drawing, painting, body art, graffiti. Haring produced monumental public works that contributed to bringing recognition to Street Art and to its entrance into the mainstream art market.
Haring's signature style is based on abstract, stylized forms worked into interlocking human figures and tightly arranged patterns. He used few basic colors in hyper-saturated hues, applied as flat areas of paint and shaped into thick silhouettes. He gave his works a distinctively graphic, cartoonish quality and relied on repetitive motifs in creating a visual commentary of both his private experiences and the larger culture of his time.
As a forerunner to future generations of artists such as KAWS, Haring sought inspiration for his artistic practice in the popular culture that surrounded him, from New York's hip-hop scene to Disney's cartoons, and also engaged with the main social and political issues of his time, such as the AIDS epidemic, South African apartheid, and the American conservative politics of the 1890s.
Diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 1988, Haring's career was brief, and he died of AIDS-related complications on February 16, 1990 at the age of 31. Before his death, Haring established the Keith Haring Foundation, a non-profit committed to raising awareness of the illness through art programing and community outreach.
Throughout his career, Haring made his art widely available through the location of his murals, as well as through the Pop Shop-Haring's own storefront which he used to sell his memorabilia.
Haring's works can be found in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.