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Keith Haring Prints

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American artist Keith Haring (1958 – 1990) was inspired to create art at a young age, engaging in drawing cartoons, a skill his father taught him on top of being inspired from the popular culture at the time like Walt Disney and Dr. Seuss. Upon going to university, Haring was in the process of training as a commercial artist until he dropped out for a lack of passion in the commercial graphic world.

Moving forward, the artist decided to continue on his own, resulting in his first solo show in 1978 at the Pittsburgh Arts and Crafts Center. That same year, Haring moved to New York City, where he found an art community that he felt more comfortable in: an atmosphere that was outside the museum and gallery space, where art was being produced in everyday environment around him: from subway stations to dance halls, and back to the streets of downtown.

It was in this artistic community, with his newly found friends Jean-Michele Basquiat and Kenny Scharf amongst other artists including graffiti artists, musicians, and performers that he found his place in the art world. The energy and spirit of New York City in the 1970s and early 1980s inspired him to be the artist as we know of him today. His works are based on the primacy of the line, which not only ties into his earlier studies in the graphic field, but also has a strong sense to his passion for drawing. Yet what is most intriguing about Haring, who created masterpieces mixed with animals and humans interacting, in a simplistic yet intriguing way, was how he was determined to dedicate his career to creating art that is for the public.

It was in the years between 1980 and 1985 that Haring began to produce hundreds of public drawings in white chalk on blank paper panels in the subway stations. People started noticing what are known today as his “subway drawings,” yet simultaneously as he was creating these public works he too opened up a store in SoHo, the Pop Shop, making art accessible to the people in an inexpensive manner – although heavily criticized from many people in the art world. Regardless, his works, especially those that were produced after he was diagnosed with aids in 1989, are perhaps what he is best known for. It was during this period that he brought light upon his illness through his choice of imagery, such as in his piece, “Fight Aids Worldwide,” and “Cockfight.”

While these works epitomize his disease, they are created in such a way that inspires hope. His later works as well, some of the most iconic works we know of today, such as his, “Baby,” “Barking Dog,” and “3eyed Monster,” too are infamous not only for being highly recognizable, but also for his bright use of colour, which never stopped throughout his career.

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