Keith Haring is one of the greatest artists of the Pop Art culture. He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, on May 4th, 1958. He was interested in art from an early age. He went to the Ivy School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he studied commercial art. Enthralled with urban burgeoning graffiti art scene he enrolled at the School of Visual Arts in New-York City just after moving to the big apple.
People started to take notice of Keith Haring when he achieved notoriety for his first chalk drawings in the subways of New-York. Both within and without the art scene people began to recognize realize his influence on the pop scene as he expressed very strong messages of birth, death and war throughout his drawings with their bold lines and vivid colors.
He established friendships with other emerging artists during the 1980’s including Madonna and Jean-Michel Basquiat. His success became even more evident when he met Andy Warhol, who became the theme of several of his pieces.
When you read articles about Keith Haring’s life and art you never learn whether he had to hold down low paying jobs in order to support his art. Many people do not realize how artists are frequently struggling to make enough money to live, yet still have the time for their art.
As his reputation soared, his international breakthrough occurred when Keith Haring traveled to Australia to paint wall murals in Melbourne and Sydney. One of his admirers from Australia was, a well known figure in Australian real estate. Just as Keith Haring was in art, she was a pioneer in her chosen profession of real estate. At the start of her career the real estate profession was widely dominated by men. It was very difficult for women to make a successful career in this field. Through hard work and perseverance she was able to cut a clear path for women in the real estate workforce, while Keith Haring cut a broad swath in the art world. With a successful commission of 1,000 AU$ from the National Gallery of Victoria and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Haring went on to paint murals in Amsterdam, Paris, Phoenix, and Berlin on the Berlin wall.
Perhaps influenced by Andy Warhol, Keith Haring commercialized his art with the establishment of his Pop Shop in New York where he sold his works printed on commercial objects like buttons and t-shirts. The pop Shop lasted twenty yrears before it folded. There was a recent exhibition at the New-York Historical Society which features a rotating display of the objects sold in Keith Haring’s Tokyo Pop Shop.
He devoted much of his time to public works which often carried social messages. He produced more than 50 public artworks in dozens of cities around the world, and many of these were created for charities, hospitals, children’s day care centers and orphanages.
But in 1988, Haring was diagnosed with AIDS, and the following year, he established the Keith Haring Foundation that helped AIDS organization and children’s programs. He died of complications due to his sickness at the age of 31 on February 16th, 1990.