Keith Haring

Date/place of birth

May 4, 1958, Reading, Pennsylvania

Day/place of death

February 16, 1990, New York

Keith Haring - Pyramid sculpture
Keith Haring - Pyramid sculpture

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Keith Haring biography

Ironically, it was the oldest script in the world that inspired Keith Haring to his trailblazing modern pictorial language: The US American artist worked the difficult and complex themes of his times with simple shapes and lines, unmistakably rooted in Egyptian hieroglyphics which yet highlighted pointed references to political current events with incomparable freshness.

Keith Haring – From childlike comic figures to political street graffiti

Keith Haring was born in Reading, Pennsylvania on 4 May 1958. His first contact with the fine arts were comic figures drawn together with his father. To bring his career as an artist on course, he studied advertising graphics for two semesters in Pittsburgh, where he also held his first solo exhibition. In the year of that success, he moved to New York to the private School of Visual Arts where he met promising young artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kenny Scharf. The politics of the day featured in his work from early on, protesting the gentrification of his New York neighbourhood with hit-and-run style graffiti in public spaces. With artfully executed collages, he mimicked the front pages of the New York Post and confronted society with his own headlines – equally fictitious and provocative reports, such as the cynical announcement of the murder of the then President Ronald Reagan by a heroic police officer.

Funny, nice – and profound: Small pictures with a big message

As a result of his provocative art actions, Keith Haring was often charged with vandalism and damage to property. This did not alter his commitment, and no matter how complex and ambitious his messages became, the form in which they were clothed remained simple. Keith Haring preserved the memory of the comic figures of his childhood and cultivated them as an individual symbolic language with great recognition value. Haring spontaneously combined his admired friend Andy Warhol with the iconic Mickey Mouse thereby producing probably his most famous and well-known works, Andy Mouse. Hidden behind the supposed cute, cheerful and endearing icons, as the artist himself called his small pictures, were almost always serious themes and allusions. Haring normally refrained from naming his works to deliberately avoid giving his audience any direction of interpretation, but even without such assistance, people understood what Haring wanted to say to them.

Street Works, body pictures and children’s laughter

Not least because of his personal concern, Keith Haring increasingly made the emerging AIDS wave the focus of his art. Many of his so-called Street Works, often applied in public spaces on bus stops and fences without permission, have survived only as photographic documentation. His friend, the American Chinese photographer Tseng Kwong Chi bore responsibility for a large number of these pictures. Five to ten thousand were produced in the 1980s, with each taking an average of three minutes to complete. In addition, Haring worked with Madonna, Andy Warhol and Yoko Ono, and painted Grace Jones’ body for the film ‘Vamp’. He also liked to paint for children, designed playgrounds and delighted in their unbiased nature. He could make any child laugh, he assured.

Keith Haring died in New York on 16 February 1990 from AIDS.

© Kunsthaus Lempertz

Keith Haring Prices

Keith HaringPyramid sculpture€124.000
Keith HaringPyramid€89.250
Keith HaringAus: Pyramid€54.560
Keith HaringOHNE TITEL€54.000
Keith HaringDOG€52.080

Keith Haring - Current offers and reference objects