Keith Haring, Art For All People

Keith Haring, who died of HIV related complications at the age of 31, would have celebrated his 50th anniversary in 2008. This is commemorated with several events and expositions all over the world.

Keith Haring was born on May 4, 1958 in Reading, USA and was raised in nearby Kutztown. From a very young age, Keith developed a love for drawing – learning some cartoon techniques from his father, Walt Disney cartoons and his favorite comics.
After Keith graduated from high school, he went to the Ivy School of Professional Art, where he took some courses in commercial & fine art. He quickly realized that he had little interest in becoming a commercial graphic designer, so he dropped out of school and left for New York.

Soon, Haring’s talent was recognized in the NYC underground, where his newly invented trademark figures as the radiant babies, barking dogs and flying saucers could be daily seen by thousands of passengers. The NYC subways became his studio, using the black ad boards as his canvas. Haring made it a point to keep his drawings fast & simple so even passengers catching only a glimpse could still understand it.

Keith Haring was swept up in the spirit & energy of the underground art scene and began to organize and participate in group shows as CoLab and exhibitions at alternative venues as Club 57.
He became friends with fellow artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kenny Scharf; graffiti artists such as Lee, Fab Five Fred and LA II; pop stars Madonna and Grace Jones; teenage heroes Timothy Leary and William Burroughs.
Keith’s artistic idol, Andy Warhol, was the theme of several of Haring’s artworks. Here you can see “Andy Mouse”, a tribute to his Pop Art Trinity: Warhol, Disney and Coca-Cola.

The recognition gained in the New York underground scene allowed Keith Haring to establish contact with the international art world, and by the time of his death in 1990, his talent was recognized by the most prestigious galleries and museums in the world.
Between 1980 and 1990, Haring participated in over 100 group and solo exhibitions as Documenta in Kassel and the Whitney and São Paulo Biennial.
During these years, Keith Haring also completed a lot of public projects, ranging from designing decors for theaters and clubs, an animated billboard on Times Square, posters for the Mandela concert, an ad campaign for Absolut Vodka, watch designs for Swatch and murals worldwide.
Keith’s iconic people, babies, dogs, angels, monsters, televisions, computers, cartoon figures, pyramids, … became signs of the times.

Throughout his career, Haring devoted much of his time to public works, which often carried social messages. He produced over 70 public artworks, many of which were created for children’s centers, hospitals and other charity causes.

By expressing universal concepts, using bold lines and bright colors, Keith Haring was able to attract a global audience. Today, the power of his imagery is still intact and his “art for all people” is universally recognized as one of the strongest pop expressions of the 20th century.

In 1989, the Keith Haring Foundation was established. The mandate of the Foundation was to provide funding and imagery for AIDS organizations as well as children’s organizations. Even though the master behind the creations has long gone, Haring’s much adored style and messages are still alive.

The Ludwig Museum Art in Budapest contributes to the Keith Haring celebration with a unique exhibition organized in co-operation with the Keith Haring Foundation. The expo runs from August 15 – November 16, 2008. More info on http://www.lumu.hu & http://www.haring.com

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