Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pop Art at its Finest

     Keith Allen Haring was born May 4, 1958 in Reading, Pennsylvania. He was an artist and social activist whose work responded to the New York City street culture of the 1980s. His expression of concepts such as birth, death, sex, and war became recognized immensely as the visual language of the 20th century.
     Haring grew up in Kultztown with his mother, Joan Haring, and his father, Allen Haring, who was a cartoonist, and his three younger sisters, Kay, Karen, and Kirsten. Haring was interested in art from an early age. From 1976 to 1978 he studied commercial art, which is art created for commercial purposes, at The Ivy School of Professional Art which was located in Pittsburgh. Shortly after he lost interest in commercial art and moved on to study fine art, which is art that is developed primarily for aesthetics or a concept. At 19, he moved to New York City where he was inspired by graffiti art and studies at the School of Visual Arts. 
     Haring achieved his first public attention with chalk drawings in the subways of New York. These pieces were his first recognized pieces of pop art. Around this time, "The Radiant Baby" became his symbol. This symbol carries a strong message about life and unity. In 1980, he organized exhibitions in Club 57, which was nightclub located at 57 St. Mark's Place in the East Village, NYC. It was a hangout and venue for performances, musicians, and visual artists. His first drawings of animals and human faces was his participation in the Times Square Exhibition. During this same year, he photocopied and pasted around the city provocative collages made from cut-up and recombined New York Post headlines. In 1981 he sketched his first chalk drawings on black paper, painted plastic, metal, and objects that he found. 

One of his many chalk drawings

"The Radiant Baby"

     Haring created more than 50 publics works between 1982 and 1989 in dozens of cities around the world. His famous "Crack is Wack" mural, created in 1986, has become a landmark on New York's FDR Drive. He got know Andy Warhol, who was the theme of several of Haring's pieces including "Andy Mouse." I found this fact interesting because last year I wrote my artist research post on Andy Warhol. I guess I am into their type of artwork which is quirky and fun. 
   Haring visited Australia and painted murals in Melbourne and Sydney which he was compensated for. He also visited and painted in Rio de Janeiro, the Paris Museum of Modern Art, Minneapolis and Manhattan. This started his international breakthrough. In 1985 he started to paint canvas and in 1986 he painted murals in Amsterdam, Paris, Phoenix and Berlin on the Berlin Wall. Later, he opened a retail store in SoHo called Pop shop, selling merchandise revealing his iconic images. 
   With the arrival of Pop Shop, his work began reflecting more socio-political themes, such as anti-Apartheid, which was system of racial segregation, AIDS awareness, and the crack cocaine epidemic. Haring was openly gay and was a strong supporter of safe sex; however in 1988, he was diagnosed with AIDS. He established the Keith Haring Foundation in 1989, its authority being to provide funding and imagery to AIDS organizations and children's programs and to expand the audience of his work. During the last years of his life Haring created most of his imagery to speak about his illness and generate activism and awareness about AIDS. In June, on the rear wall of the convent of the Church of Sant'Antonio in Pisa, Italy, he painted the last public work of his life, the mural "Tuttomondo" translation: "all-world."
     Keith Haring died February 16, 1990 of AIDS-related complications. As a celebration of his life, Madonna declared the first New York date of her Blond Ambition World Tour, a benefit concert for Haring's memory, and donated all proceeds from her ticket sales to AIDS charities. Additionally, Haring's work was featured in several of Red Hot Organization's, who's motto is "Fighting AIDS Trhough Pop Culture, efforts to raise money for AIDS and AIDS awareness

     Honestly I chose to do this artist based on a picture that was included in my art teacher, Ms. Kiick's slideshow. Now that I have done the research I really admire Keith Haring. I love his way of expressing serious topics by using his fun pop art that makes the work seem less like a lecture. I also realized that I have a magnet of one of Keith's works. I got it from the MoMA a couple of years ago. I saw some of his works there and didn't even realize it was the same Keith Haring I chose to research today! 
     Keith wasn't afraid to let people know how he felt on the issue of AIDS, which was a huge part of his life, this made me like his so much more as a person knowing that art wasn't just a job for him, but a passion.

Here are a couple pictures of Haring's artwork that make me look twice....

     I like the first piece (top) because it represents his feelings about AIDS. He was very brave to stand up for what he believes in. I did see this piece in the MoMA and I wish that i took more time to look at it, I now have an excuse to go back! The second piece (middle) is the one that I have on my refrigerator in magnet form. It's a heartfelt piece of pun intended and the last piece is one that I wish I had in my room. You can tell Haring had fun creating this one. It was used as cover art for the Red Hot + Dance AIDS benefit organized by Red Hot Organization's. Overall, I am fond of the way Haring can make a piece look so simple, but effortless.

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