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Facts about Keith Haring

The Artwork of Keith Haring
The Artwork of Keith Haring Francois Durand/Getty Images

Keith Haring was an American artist who gained fame for his cartoony style that started out as part of the New York graffiti culture in the 1980s. Born in Pennsylvania on May 4, 1958, Keith Allen Haring moved to New York City in 1978 when he was 19 years old. He quickly became interested in the graffiti art scene and enrolled in Manhattan’s School of Visual Arts where he majored in painting. His work first gained public attention when he and a group of friends sneaked into subway stations and rail yards (where trains are kept) and graffitied the trains and subways. Although illegal, this activity brought much public attention to his work because the drawings were seen by thousands of people every day. Moreover, during the 1980s most trains and subways stations were covered with messy graffiti and Keith Haring’s undeniably cartoon-like-yet-artistic scenes of topics like birth and friendship were met with more praise than scorn. In 1980, Keith Haring started organizing exhibitions at “Club 57,” a Manhattan night club that catered to artists. These shows were how his work first became recognized in the official gallery-going art world. Despite gallery success, Keith Haring continued to create public art on the street and often included social messages in his work. For example, in 1986 he painted a “Crack is Wack” mural which is visible from New York’s FDR highway. Between 1982 and 1989 he created public works for cities around the world and even became famous with artist Andy Warhol. Openly gay, Keith Haring died of AIDS in New York on February 16, 1990. He was 31 years old.

Keith Haring was notable for his cartoon-like and brightly colored art.
Keith Haring was notable for his cartoon-like and brightly colored art. Francois Durand/Getty Images

Below is a list of facts about Keith Haring:

• “The Radiant Baby” was Keith Haring’s most iconic symbol.

• Keith Haring’s father was an artist who was interested in cartoony drawings. Keith credited his father with teaching him how to create broad stroke lines that later defined his art.

• Keith Haring traveled a lot during the 1980s. He went to many countries including France, Australia, and Brazil and created public artwork in cities like Paris, Sydney and Rio de Janeiro.

• Keith Haring designed a jacket worn by Madonna during a performance on the TV dance program “Solid Gold.”

• Keith Haring had a store called the “Pop Shop” where he sold merchandise that brandished his unique artistic style.