Art continued to be a focal point of interest during his adolescence. He read many books and visited art museums quite frequently. He soon began to develop an awareness of modern art and its' influences on modern society.
Keith enrolled in the School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh with the intent to pursue being an "artist". He began his studies in commercial art but soon realized that commercial art was not fulfilling to him as an artist so he left the school.
Keith researched other art programs throughout the US. Upon his return to Pittsburgh, he became affiliated with the Pittsburgh Arts and Crafts Center where he would have his first important exhibition. Also during this time, Keith studied the works of Alechinsky, Dubuffet and Christo. He found that their mature works had many similarities with his own which inspired him to pursue a professional fine art career. He then realized that Pittsburgh would no longer be enough of an audience for him so he headed for New York.
He arrived in New York in 1978 where he quickly earned a scholarship to The School of Visual Arts. He was deeply inspired by the technique and social commentary of graffiti. He was also experimenting with his sexuality and his homosexual identity. He found his new home in the vibrant East Village where he and his art could be completely uninhibited.
He worked constantly, designing shapes, patterns and entire interior spaces. His doodles and free form drawings soon took shape into dogs, babies and humans. He drew on paper and canvas then moved out into the public environment. Subways, sidewalks and streets soon became his palette. His "tags" were soon very familiar to the exhuberant New York streets.
Growing recognition of his art brought him more financial security and more opportunity but it also brought about confusion and pressure. Keith was disillusioned with the task of selling direct to galleries and dealers because they would often take advantage of his inexperience in the art market. He decided to seek out representation and soon accepted an offer by Tony Shafrazi. This decision would turn out or be the most influential decision of his career. His first opening was attended by hundreds and received a great deal of media attention. The next several years brought Keith worldwide recognition. He exhibited throughout the world and he responded with great vigor by creating more and more. His images were being reproduced both with and without appropriate copyrights. Keith was stunned at the commercial response to his imagery and even more stunned at where these images would turn up.
In April 1986, Keith opened the Pop Shop, a retail store in New York. His motivation was to accommodate clientele that could no longer afford his art and art objects. The public loved Keith and he knew his audience. No critic or curator could take responsibility for this and Keith felt empowered by knowing this.
In 1988 Keith was diagnosed with AIDS. His response to the illness was characteristically philosophical. He would express his feelings about the illness in his art work as well as become an activist for public awareness of the disease. He did not see his own mortality as a limitation but rather another stage of life. He died on February 16, 1990.
|The Genesis Gallery, Ltd.|
|2000||"Keith Haring." http://www.genesisgallery.com/html/bios/335.html|
|The Keith Haring Foundation|
|2004||:Keith Haring." The Estate of Keith Haring. http://www.haring.com|
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|This page was last updated 31 December 2004.|