Keith Haring

Collaborated Project:

City As Studio | Exhibition

When Keith Haring (b. 1958, Reading, Pennsylvania, U.S.; d. 1990, New York, New York, U.S.) moved from Pittsburgh to New York in 1978 to study at the School of Visual Arts, he joined an emergent community dedicated to exploring the city’s public and alternative spaces as arenas for artistic expression. In 1980, Haring began making white chalk drawings on the blank paper panels he found throughout the subway system. Developing a high-impact visual language based on strong, simple lines and immediately recognizable symbols, Haring reflected on universal themes: love and sex, work and money, birth and death. His faceless figures, "radiant babies" and "barking dogs" became the ubiquitous icons of an era, endlessly adaptable to different uses and formats. Haring, an integral part of the East Village art scene, exhibited in and organized shows at Downtown venues such as the Mudd Club and Club 57. He was very supportive of other artists and collaborated extensively with the teenage graffiti artist LA II. They showed together in a legendary exhibition at the Fun Gallery in 1983. Between 1980 and 1989, Haring participated in numerous exhibitions, including surveys such as documenta and the Whitney Biennial. He also produced many “official” public projects, often commissioned by charities and communicating messages of social concern, such as his famous Crack Is Wack mural painted on a handball court in East Harlem in 1986. Among his most high profile outings was an animation for the Spectracolor billboard in Times Square and watch designs for Swatch. He also collaborated with artists ranging from William S. Burroughs to Madonna and opened the Pop Shop in 1986 to sell products he had designed; he later opened a store in Tokyo as well. Haring was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988 and established a foundation the next year to benefit related organizations. He died in 1990, at the age of 31.