Keith Haring remains one of the most important and celebrated artists of his generation and beyond. Through his signature bold graphic line drawings of figures and forms dancing and grooving, Haring’s paintings, large-scale public murals, chalk drawings, and singular graffiti style defined an era and brought awareness to social issues ranging from gay rights and AIDS to drug abuse prevention and a woman’s right to choose. Haring-isms is a collection of essential quotations from this creative thinker and legendary artist.
In case you missed it, Simon Doonan wrote a biography on Keith Haring which came out in February. It’s part of a series of pocket-sized biographies about great artists called Lives of the Artists and examines Haring’s inspiring life and work during the 1980s:
Revolutionary and renegade, Keith Haring was an artist for the people, creating an instantly recognisable repertoire of symbols – barking dogs, space-ships, crawling babies, clambering faceless people – which became synonymous with the volatile culture of 1980s. Like a careening, preening pinball, Keith Haring playfully slammed into all aspects of this decade – hip-hop, new-wave, graffiti, funk, art, style, gay culture – and brought them together.
Grab a copy of the book on Bookshop and let me know what you think in the comments.
I came across this via Feedly as I have a Keith Haring Google Alert set up.
Etta Loves is an e-commerce site that makes baby sensory products such as muslins and playmats. They’ve recently collaborated with Keith Haring to create a line of products that bear Haring’s iconic prints. I love his work because it stimulates my mind so I can’t imagine how cool it’d be for a baby. All those colours and shapes!
The stunning patterns ensure that babies are stimulated and mesmerised, giving parents a precious moment of calm and, with Keith Haring, their first art gallery experience.
Sotheby’s will auction off pieces from Keith Haring’s art collection, including works by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
According to The Spaces, the sale will raise money for The Center in New York, a cornerstone of the city’s LGBTQ community. The auction will open on 24th September and is expected to raise about $1m. If you have that kind of cash, you can view the works online or arrange to see them in person at Sotheby’s Manhattan HQ.
If you’re wondering why Haring’s art collection is being auctioned off at all, it’s a legal thing:
Legal counsel had warned the nonprofit for years that keeping a collection made by artists other than its founder might fail to serve its charitable purpose. So last year the foundation began arranging with Sotheby’s to sell the artworks in an online auction called “Dear Keith,” with all proceeds benefiting the Center, an L.G.B.T.Q. community organization in the West Village.
And the reason for choosing The Center was a personal connection to Haring:
“Keith Haring fostered hope and resilience during difficult times,” said Glennda Testone, executive director of the Center. “He painted his 1989 mural, ‘Once Upon a Time,’ on our walls to celebrate sexual liberation and envision a world without AIDS, in direct opposition to the fear and stigma that fueled that pandemic.”
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!
Update: 3 of the videos were made private so only 5 are available to view.
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.
Haring related: Keith Haring’s personal art collection to be auctioned