Keith Haring

  • Keith Haring

The American artist Keith Haring skyrocketed to fame in 1980s New York, embodying the energy and dynamism of the city. He belonged to the lively circle of young musicians and artists who frequented the East Village, including Kenny Scharf and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and from 1982 was represented by the prominent dealer Tony Shafrazi. Haring’s boldly iconic style is instantly recognizable: abstracted human and animal forms are rendered in stark black outlines, bright colours evoke a vivacious Pop mood and linear patterns emanating from his figures suggest an often effervescent sense of movement. Haring drew inspiration from myriad sources, including Jean Dubuffet’s art brut, the writings of the semiotician Umberto Eco, the graffiti of the New York subways and sidewalks, Pop art’s ambitions to bring popular culture into a critique of fine art, the commitment to public art on the part of Christo and Jeanne-Claude as well as African and Aboriginal forms. Haring also approached art as a liberating form of social activism, exploring themes around capitalist exploitation, drug abuse and the threat of nuclear holocaust; after contracting AIDS in 1988, his activism became focused on the lethal epidemic. Haring died of an AIDS-related illness less than two years later.


Keith Haring
Reading, Pennsylvania 1958–1990 New York
Piglet Goes Shopping, 1989
Acrylic on canvas
182.9 x 243.8 cm (72 x 96 in.)