His first love was a girl named Suzy. Keith always thought he’d be with a girl, and he enjoyed it. But his increasing appetite for men eventually drove the two apart. Keith later had male partners, such as Juan Dubose, a deejay who died of AIDS complication before Haring, and Juan Rivera, a carpenter/limo driver. Of all the long term partners that he had, he was unfaithful to all of them. He used to cruise the streets and attend a local baths to seek sex with men.
Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Haring grew up in Kutztown with his mother, Joan Haring, and his father, Allen Haring, a cartoonist. He also had three younger sisters, Kay, Karen and Kristen. Haring was interested in art from an early age. From 1976 to 1978 he studied commercial art at The Ivy School of Professional Art, an art school in Pittsburgh. He soon lost interest in commercial art and moved on to study Fine Arts. (Picture: Juan Dubose)
At age 19, in 1978, Haring moved to New York City, where he was inspired by graffiti art, and studied at the School of Visual Arts.
Haring achieved his first public attention with public art in subways. These were his first recognized pieces of pop art. The exhibitions were filmed by the photographer Tseng Kwong Chi. Around this time, "The Radiant Baby" became his symbol. His bold lines, vivid colors, and active figures carry strong messages of life and unity. Starting in 1980, he organized exhibitions in Club 57. He participated in the Times Square Exhibition and drew, for the first time, animals and human faces. That same year, he photocopied and pasted around the city provocative collages made from cut-up and recombined New York Post headlines. In 1981 he sketched his first chalk drawings on black paper and painted plastic, metal and found objects.
Keith Haring and Juan Dubose by Andy Warhol
Keith Allen Haring was an artist whose work responded to the New York City street culture of the 1980s. By expressing concepts of birth, death, sex and war, Haring's imagery has become a widely recognized visual language of the 20th century. His first love was a girl named Suzy. But his increasing appetite for men eventually drove the two apart. Keith later had male partners, such as Juan Dubose, a deejay who died of AIDS complication before Haring, and Juan Rivera, a carpenter/limo driver.
Juan Rivera and Keith Haring
By 1982, Haring established friendships with fellow emerging artists Futura 2000, Kenny Scharf, Madonna and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Haring created more than 50 public works between 1982 and 1989 in dozens of cities around the world. His famous "Crack is Wack" mural, created in 1986, has become a landmark on New York's FDR Drive. He got to know Andy Warhol, who was the theme of several of Haring's pieces including "Andy Mouse." His friendship with Warhol would prove to be a decisive element in his eventual success, particularly after their deaths.
In December 2007, an area of the American Textile Building in the TriBeCa neighborhood of New York City was discovered to contain a painting of Haring's from 1979.
In 1984, Haring visited Australia and painted wall murals in Melbourne (such as the 1984 'Detail-Mural at Collingwood College, Victoria') and Sydney and received a A$1000 commission from the National Gallery of Victoria and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art to create a mural, based on his drug addiction, which temporarily replaced the water curtain at the National Gallery. He also visited and painted in Rio de Janeiro, the Paris Museum of Modern Art, Minneapolis and Manhattan. He even designed a jacket worn by a pink-wigged Madonna for a performance of her song "Like a Virgin" for the TV dance program Solid Gold.
In 1985 Haring started to paint canvas. He made an appearance on MTV in November 1985, painting the set during a "guest VJ" special hosted by his friend, keyboardist Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran. In 1986 Haring painted murals in Amsterdam, Paris, Phoenix and in Berlin on the Berlin Wall at Brandenburg Gate. As well, he painted the body of Grace Jones for her music video "I'm Not Perfect." and opened a retail store in SoHo called Pop Shop, selling merchandise bearing his iconic images including t-shirts, toys, posters and other objects with reproductions of his art; the outlet closed in 2005. Haring also created advertising images for Absolut vodka and Swatch watches.
When asked about the "commercialism" of his work, Mr. Haring said: "I could earn more money if I just painted a few things and jacked up the price. My shop is an extension of what I was doing in the subway stations, breaking down the barriers between high and low art." By the arrival of Pop Shop, his work began reflecting more socio-political themes, such as anti-Apartheid, AIDS awareness, and the crack cocaine epidemic. He even created several pop art pieces influenced by other products: Absolut Vodka, Lucky Strike cigarettes, and Coca-Cola. In 1987 he had his own exhibitions in Helsinki and Antwerp, among others. He also designed the cover for the benefit album A Very Special Christmas, on which Madonna was included. In 1988 he joined a select group of artists whose work has appeared on the label of Chateau Mouton Rothschild wine.
Haring also created a public mural in the ambulatory care department of Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center on Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn.
A rare video of Haring at work shows his energetic style. Mr. Haring wrote: "I am becoming much more aware of movement. The importance of movement is intensified when a painting becomes a performance. The performance (the act of painting) becomes as important as the resulting painting."
Keith Haring was openly gay and was a strong advocate of safe sex; however, in 1988, Haring was diagnosed with AIDS. He established the Keith Haring Foundation in 1989, its mandate being to provide funding and imagery to AIDS organizations and children's programs like Kinderstern, and to expand the audience for Haring’s work through exhibitions, publications and the licensing of his images. Haring enlisted his imagery during the last years of his life to speak about his own illness and generate activism and awareness about AIDS.
In 1989, at the invitation of the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center to join a show of site-specific artwork for the building, at 208 West 13th Street, Haring chose the second-floor men's room for his mural Once Upon a Time. In June, on the rear wall of the convent of the Church of Sant'Antonio (in Italian: Chiesa di Sant'Antonio abate) in Pisa (Italy), he painted the last public work of his life, the mural "Tuttomondo" (translate: "all-world"), along with 6 animated inserts for Sesame Street (which later aired a year after his death).
Haring died February 16, 1990 of AIDS-related complications.
As a celebration of his life, Madonna declared the first New York date of her Blond Ambition World Tour a benefit concert for Haring's memory, and donated all proceeds from her ticket sales to AIDS charities including AIDS Project Los Angeles and amfAR; the act was documented in her film Truth or Dare. Additionally, Haring's work was featured in several of Red Hot Organization's efforts to raise money for AIDS and AIDS awareness, specifically its first two albums, Red Hot + Blue and Red Hot + Dance, the latter of which used Haring's work on its cover.
Keith Haring by Elizabeth Sussman
Paperback: 60 pages
Publisher: Skarstedt Fine Art (September 1, 2008)
Amazon: Keith Haring
In 1990, when Keith Haring died of AIDS at the age of 31, The New York Times detailed a "meteoric career" that was built around a "cartoonish universe inhabited by crawling children, barking dogs and dancing figures, all set in motion by staccatolike lines." This volume, published in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the artist's birth, serves as a survey of some of Haring's best known works--taking the viewer through the three stylistic turning points of his short yet impressive career. First, we are presented with the cartooning influences, where thick bold lines are laid down with ink on paper or drawn directly onto empty subway posters. Next come Haring's most iconic works, fully developed by the mid-1980s, when he began to work directly on canvas. Finally, we come to work that hints at Haring's own social awareness and fight against AIDS--the depiction of intentionally unfinished canvases and devil-like figures, for example.
Keith Haring Journals
Reading level: Ages 18 and up
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Penguin Classics; Deluxe edition (January 26, 2010)
Amazon: Keith Haring Journals
A stunning Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of the activist artist's extraordinary journals
Keith Haring is synonymous with the downtown New York art scene of the 1980's. His artwork-with its simple, bold lines and dynamic figures in motion-filtered in to the world's consciousness and is still instantly recognizable, twenty years after his death. This Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition features ninety black-and-white images of classic artwork and never-before-published Polaroid images, and is a remarkable glimpse of a man who, in his quest to become an artist, instead became an icon.
More Artists at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Art
More LGBT Couples at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Real Life Romance
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