Pride Month Artist Focus – Keith Haring

“Art should be something that liberates your soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further.”
― Keith Haring

American artist Keith Haring was best known for his pop, graffiti inspired art which touched on his experiences as a gay man with AIDS living through the AIDS epidemic. His art was very much in the public eye after his passing in 1990, as many artists, such as Madonna and Red Hot Organization, dedicated proceeds from their work to AIDS charities in his memory. Keith is one of many people who is memorialized on the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Keith studied graphic art in his youth but lost interest in it. Then in 1978 he moved to New York City to study painting at the School of Visual Arts. Though he gained attention for his street art, especially those in the subway stations, it wasn’t until 1984 that he became internationally famous. In 1986, Keith opened the Pop Shop in Soho to make his work more readily accessible to his fans. He said of the Pop Shop:

“Here’s the philosophy behind the Pop Shop: I wanted to continue this same sort of communication as with the subway drawings. I wanted to attract the same wide range of people, and I wanted it to be a place where, yes, not only collectors could come, but also kids from the Bronx. The main point was that we didn’t want to produce things that would cheapen the art. In other words, this was still an art statement.”

In 1989, Keith founded the Keith Haring Foundation to provide funds and imagery to AIDS and children’s programs.

In 2017, his sister Kay wrote and published the book Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing. Kay wrote the book with children in mind as Keith was very passionate about creating a better future for children, and inspiring them to do good for the world. Another book, Keith Haring: The Authorized Biography, was written in 1992 by John Gruen. Filmmaker Christina Clausen released a documentary film about Keith in 2008 called The Universe of Keith Haring, which played at many different film festivals during that year and was released the following year on DVD.

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