The American artist Keith Haring was born in Reading in 1958. He has a great enthusiasm for comics from an early point on and makes drawings. After graduating from high school he begins his design studies at the Ivy School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh in 1976, however, he drops out after just two semesters and works as an artist. His first one-man show takes place at the Arts and Crafts Center in Pittsburgh in 1978.
As of 1978 Keith Haring lives in New York, where he enthusiastically enters the lively and diverse art scene. He also attends the School of Visual Arts where he experiments with performances, installations, collages and video.
His career takes off as of 1980, when he paints the untenanted advertising boards that are covered with black paper in the New York subway. Between 1980 and 1985 he makes hundreds of these public drawings with a swift line, he sometimes makes up 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 image carriers and different colors as well, as of 1985 he executes his first figures on canvas.
His international breakthrough comes in 1982. After his first one-man show in the Tony Shafrazi Gallery, more than hundred single and group exhibitions in New York follow over the course of the 1980s. He is also commissioned to do a number of public spaces, among them the animation for the Spectacolor Billboard on Time Square, and makes watch designs for Swatch.
Being a clever business man, he 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. These funny and likable utensils reflect the spirit of the time and become a tremendous commercial success.
But Keith Haring also shows a great social commitment, using the popularity of his figures for messages regarding AIDS, against drug abuse and for anti nuclear protests. He co-operates with UNICEF and initiates numerous projects for children.
Keith Haring falls ill with AIDS in 1988 and starts the Keith-Haring-Foundation a year later. He dies at the age of 31 on February 16, 1990.
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