| Haring, Keith Biography
American painter, whose simple, symbol-like drawings of dogs, babies, and dancing figures brought him international acclaim in the 1980s.Keith Haring grew up in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. He attended the Ivy School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and had his first exhibition at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in 1978.
Keith Haring became interested in the look of the hard-edged black lines he saw in graffiti on subways and subsequently befriended a number of so-called graffiti kids, including Haitian-American Jean-Michel Basquiat, a young graffiti artist whose work was gaining acceptance in local art galleries. In 1980 Haring began creating real graffiti in subways and elsewhere, using images such as a barking dog, flying saucers emitting lightning bolts, and his so-called radiant baby, a faceless baby surrounded by radiating lines, which became his signature. These images were drawn either in thick black marking pen or in white chalk on the black advertising boards of subway stations. While these efforts made Haring famous, he also was arrested repeatedly for criminal mischief. Meanwhile, Haring also created work for upscale art galleries. His 1982 show at the prestigious Tony Shafrazi Gallery in New York City was an enormous success and effectively launched his career.
Haring's work is informed by diverse sources, including the popular appeal of American artist Andy Warhol and others in the pop art movement; the rhythm and movements in African, Cuban, and hip-hop dancing; and Afro-Cuban body painting. In 1988 Haring was diagnosed with AIDS, and during the remaining two years of his life he devoted much of his energy to educating the public about AIDS and drug abuse.
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