Because one half-hour documentary isn’t enough to learn about one of the greatest modern artists of the 20th century.
Modern art rabbit holes are the best kind to fall down.
Sure, there’s a lot of pretentiousness in the field and dominated by white men both at the canvas and observing it for the media. But there’s a unique artist for everyone. Someone that catches you off guard with their interpretation of the world, telling a story that means something to you.
And for me, Keith Haring is one of those artists. Born on 4th May 1958, Haring’s work became synonymous with New York City and its bustling subways, depicting striking images of human figures, dogs, and all kinds of manifested emotions.
As his popularity grew, so did the themes behind them. He created large scale murals as forms of activism for AIDS awareness and sexuality. His work never demeaned or alienated those who observed. They were fun and full of energy and, most of all, memorable. You know when seen a Keith Haring piece.
So with that, I’ve made a YouTube playlist of 8 Keith Haring documentaries to watch at your leisure. Enjoy!
1. Drawing the line: a portrait of Keith Haring
This documentary was produced by Elisabeth Aubert in conjunction with Biografilm.
Keith Haring’s artistry moved went from New York subway graffiti to the art galleries and walls of the rich and famous. He was often likened to Andy Warhol (much like his best friend Jean-Michel Basquiat) but I feel that diminished his individuality and personal merit.
He broke boundaries with his work as a form of activism during the AIDS epidemic, which he sadly died from in 1990.
2. The Universe of Keith Haring
The strapline for this documentary is simply “a portrait of New York artist Keith Haring” but this picture paints a lot more than 1,000 words.
Christina Clausen directed the film and gave glimpses into his life, from his humble beginnings in Pennsylvania to pop culture icon. The film also stars Yoko Ono, Fab 5 Freddy, and David LaChapelle.
3. Keith Haring -- The Message
French fashion designer Maripol presented his documentary (English dub and French subs). Split into episodes, The Message looked at the different ways Haring’s work immersed itself into pop culture during the 80s.
4. Discover the King of Street Art: Keith Haring
Discover the King of Street Art will appeal to fans of mini-documentaries. This one is a 4-minute journey through his life and features some of his most famous pieces, from subway walls to the Berlin Wall (and Grace Jones).
5. Keith Haring Uncovered
The other documentaries in the list gave overviews of Haring’s life but Keith Haring Uncovered looks at his visit to Australia in 1984 when he created a mural in Collingwood, Melbourne. What makes this mural special is its rarity -- there are only 31 known Haring murals “in the wild” so to speak.
6. From the archives: Keith Haring was here
This is an archived news story rather than a doc but it’s still pretty cool. Charles Osgood investigated on Haring’s chalk drawings in New York subways that often got him in trouble with the law. Spoilsports.
7. Mr. Guera Reads …Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing
If the children are our future, they ought to know about Haring too. And this video does exactly that. Mr Guera is an illustrator who makes educational trading cards called Buzu Trading Cards® and in this, he did a reading of Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing by Kay A Haring, Keith’s younger sister.
8. Intro to Keith Haring
The final video splices together footage from other documentaries as an educational aid, including the semiotic nature of his work. Perfect for students of any age.