American artist Keith Haring was best known for his graffiti-inspired drawings, which he first made in subway stations and later exhibited in museums. Haring was born on May 4, 1958, in Reading, Pennsylvania. His parents, Allen and Joan Haring, raised Haring and his three sisters in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. As a child, Haring was fascinated by the cartoon art of Walt Disney and Charles Schultz and the illustrations of Dr. Seuss. He spent many hours drawing with his father, an engineer whose hobby was cartooning. After graduating from high school in 1976, Haring briefly attended the Ivy School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh, dropping out after two semesters. In 1978, he decided to return to school, moving to New York City to enroll at the School of Visual Arts.
When Haring arrived in New York, it was home to a thriving underground art scene. Haring befriended fellow emerging artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kenny Scharf, who shared his interest in the colorful and transgressive graffiti art of the city's streets. Haring and these other artists organized exhibitions at downtown nightclubs and other alternative locations, where art, music and fashion all came together in a dynamic mix. Beyond the clubs, Haring began using the city as his canvas. Riding the subway, he noticed the black paper rectangles of empty advertising panels on station walls; using white chalk, he began filling these black panels with simple, quickly drawn pictures. His signature images included dancing figures, a "radiant baby" (a crawling infant emitting rays of light), a barking dog, a flying saucer, large hearts, and figures with televisions for heads. These graffiti drawings attracted the attention of New York commuters, as well as the city authorities: Haring was arrested for vandalism on numerous occasions.
Haring soon began to apply his universally recognizable imagery to freestanding drawings and paintings. The energy and optimism of his art, with its bold lines and bright colors, brought him popularity with a wide audience. He had his first solo exhibition in 1981, at the Westbeth Painters Space in Manhattan. In 1982 he began to show his art at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery, which would represent him for the rest of his career. Throughout the 1980s, Haring's work was exhibited widely both within the United States and internationally. He also collaborated with other artists and performers, including Andy Warhol, Grace Jones and William S. Burroughs. Continue reading from Biography
About Haring (Keith Haring Foundation)
How Keith Haring Used Art for Good (Tate)
Facing Death from AIDS, Keith Haring Kept Creating (PBS)
‘The Public Has a Right to Art’: The Radical Joy of Keith Haring (The Guardian)
Keith Haring’s Personal Collection Sold to Benefit NY LGBT Center (Hyperallergic)