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Keith Haring

Keith Haring

*  1958 Reading/Pennsylvania
† 1990 New York

The American Keith Haring was born in Reading, Pennsylvania on May 4, 1958. He begins his studies at the Ivy School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh in 1976, however, he breaks off his graphic design education after two semesters. His interest in art remains, his first one-man show takes place at the Arts and Crafts Center in Pittsburgh in 1978.
Keith Haring goes to New York the same year to attends the School of Visual Arts. He enthusiastically enters the lively New York art scene and becomes friends with Kenny Scharf and Jean-Michel Basquiat and also gets to know many musicians and graffiti artists. He partakes in exhibitions and performances in the Club 57 that he also co-organizes.
During his time at the School of Visual Arts Keith Haring experiments with performances, installations, collages and videos, but he also keeps his interest in graphic arts and makes further drawings. In 1980 he notices the untenanted advertising boards covered with black paper in the New York subway. They inspire him to do drawings with white chalk that he mounts to these boards all over the entire subway system. Between 1980 and 1985 he makes hundreds of these public drawings with a swift line, he sometimes makes 30 to 40 "Subway Drawings" a day. The simple but unmistakable comic-like silhouette figures do not only call the passengers' attention, but also the attention of the New York art scene. Keith Haring soon begins to use different carriers and different colors as well. As of 1985 he executes his first figures on canvas.
This marks the beginning of a steep career, his art reflects the spirit of the time and becomes popular in no time. He has numerous exhibition in various galleries. He has a one-man show in the Tony Shafrazi Gallery in 1982, the same year he also participates in the "documenta" 7 in Kassel. The São Paulo Biennale and the Whitney Biennale follow in 1983. He is also commissioned to do a number of public spaces, among them the animation for the Spectacolor Billboard on Time Square. He makes watch designs for Swatch.
Keith Haring opens his own shop, the Pop Shop, in Soho in 1986, where he sells T-shirts, posters, pins and many other articles with his typical figures on them. His commercial success, the wide spread, almost an omnipresence, of his congenial creations can not be stopped.
He falls ill with AIDS in 1988 and starts the Keith-Haring-Foundation a year later. Keith Haring dies at only 31 years f age in New York on February 16, 1990.