Keith Haring is an American pop artist whose work became well known around the1980s. He turned his average, bleak surroundings into a platform that he could express his artwork and the many controversial ideas within through. Most of his work focuses on many personal and human values, e.g. love, sex, war, death, and societal expectations, but he’s most well known for dismantling the stigma of aids, representing the LGBT+ community, and detesting drugs (namely crack cocaine.) Haring’s art style is unique in a way that it was most often done with simple lines and shapes. He uses these elements in a way that allows him to express his feelings about the world and people around him, most often throughout intricate symbolism.
Haring began his life on May 4th, 1958 being born in Reading, Pennsylvania. He was soon later raised in a nearby city by the name of Kutztown, Pennsylvania.
Haring’s love for art started at an incredibly young age. His earliest inspirations for work were well-known artist Dr. Seuss, the world renowned Walt Disney, and his father. He graduated high school in 1976 and proceeded to waste no time in chasing his passion for art. He enrolled in the Ivy School of Professional Art, an institution for commercial art in Pittsburgh. While the school may have been art focused and fulfilled the creative need for some, Haring lost interest in commercial art quickly, only spending 2 years there before dropping out of the program. Staying in Pittsburgh a while longer, he did independent work. His artwork gained a bit of traction, and he hosted his first solo exhibition in 1978, hosted at the Pittsburgh Arts and Crafts Center. Soon after this, Haring made the decision to move to New York City, and it would be here that he would find new inspiration for his work. He attended another art institution in this area, the School of Visual Arts.
At the same time, he would discover the exhilarating and thriving scene of art that strayed away from galleries and museums.This community prospered in a way that was unlike much Haring at encountered before in the art world. This group didn’t feel the need to conform to practical expectations of art at the time, and it was something Haring grew to admire and love. In this new environment, he used inspiration from artists like Pierre Alechinsky, William Burroughs, and Robert Henri. Although the primary focus was and would always be drawing, Haring experimented with a couple of other art forms. He would develop his signature art style here, with the simple lines, shapes, and the different expressions they can outwardly portray. Most of the time, Haring would make his masterpieces on blank, covered, subway walls. These spaces were populated with an audience to view his work as well, excessively creating artworks to display. Though his passion and reputation prospered, Keith Haring’s story came to an early end. He died on February 16, 1990, at the age of 31 from health complications due to AIDS in Manhattan, New York. He was cremated, and his ashes were spread near the town of Bowers, Pennsylvania in a farm field.