"I see myself a product of the space age, not only because I was born the year the first men was shot into space, but also because I grew up with Walt Disney´s comics"
Haring grew up with comics and cartoons, with the glittering phenomena of mass culture. Since early childhood Keith Haring was fascinated by drawing. In 1976 he entered the Ivy School of Professional Art. He experimented with LSD and had the vision of a newly structured universe – a vision that is present throughout his whole life and is manifested in his entire work.
Keith Haring´s talent was first recognized on subway platforms, where his trademark chalk-drawn figures could be seen at the price of a token. The very first of Haring´s tags, the life-giving Radiant Baby has launched an outstanding career as an artist.
The success of his work mainly was due to its simplicity. To illustrate the messages that have been of great importance to Haring, he invented striking signs for all sorts of social topics such as violence, money, sex, religion, racism or AIDS. Topics, that he mostly described through allegoric figures. Haring´s signs – he called them “icons” (the barking dog, the radiant baby, the yellow angel and many more) have the same effect as pictograms or trademarks in the marketing circus. Again and again he later combined some of his icons in one artwork (e.g. “Retrospective” showing 24 of his most important icons).
Everything Haring carried out tended to be suitable for rapid distribution and universal use. He continually made his artworks of noisy stick figures and labyrinths of lines seen on fire walls, billboards and wooden fences, like a sprayer that leaves his graffiti, as well as on silk screens, relief prints and etchings, creating over 60 separate and distinct editions of prints. Many of his work could be called “wall newspapers” because they commented on current events.
Haring became also extremely popular in Europe and was commissioned projects of painting a car for BMW, a blimp celebrating the bicentennial of the French Revolution, a mural project on a church in Pisa, a mural for a Hospital in Monaco, a spectacular lighted billboard of he Radiant Baby on Times Square,, N.Y., bicycles, record albums and a carousel for Andre Heller´s Luna Park in Hamburg among many others. In 1986 he was invited to paint a section of the Berlin wall which he used as a transmitter for his idea of a peaceful human chain.
He became a close friend to celebrities like Madonna, Princess Caroline of Monaco and was collaborating with many artists of his generation such as Andy Warhol and J.M. Basquiat.
By the time of his death in 1990 at the age of only 31 Haring´s career had moved from underground New York to the most prestigious galleries and museums in the world.
Copyrights für alle Artworks:
© The Estate of Keith Haring
Keith Haring. The authorized Biography
Gruen, John. Fireside. Simon & Schuster. New York 1991
Keith Haring. Editions on Paper – 1982-1990.
Edition Cantz, Stuttgart, 1997
Elisabeth Sussmann.. Evergreen. Taschen Verlag. Köln 1998