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Keith Haring

Born in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, Keith Haring became known for graffiti art and cartoon art and became a leading figure in the New York contemporary art world of the second half of the 20th century.

Keith Haring was raised in Kutztown and then after high school, moved to Pittsburgh and began to study commercial art. In 1978, Keith Haring moved to New York City and studied at the School of Visual Arts where he and artist Kenny Scharf became companions.

Keith Haring began to experiment with graffiti, painting first on subway walls. He became known for his complex, pandemonic, jigsaw-puzzle like paintings, intended to be iconography of American life. Usually the artist would begin by making the border around the work and then would go inside the space. Keith Haring said “the whole painting is the cartoon of a cartoon.”

In 1982, Keith Haring had his first exhibition, which was held at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery in New York. Whitney Museum curators organized a major retrospective of the work of the artist in 1997. Keith Haring died of AIDS in 1990.

The work of Keith Haring is the subject of numerous magazine articles including by Natalie E. Phillips “The Radiant (Christ) Child: Keith Haring and the Jesus Movement” American Art, Fall 2007.

Biography from the Archives of AskART.