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Happy 58th Birthday, Keith Haring

by matt baume May 04, 2016


You surely know Keith Haring’s work from his effervescent stickish figures decorating everything from floor-to-ceiling walls to T-shirts to coffee mugs to earrings. If you liked bright colors in the 1980s and early ’90s, not a day went by that you didn’t see some yellow men holding a baby aloft, or a red dog with bark lines emanating from his mouth, or just a whole bunch of squiggles that may or may not have contained a penis.

Keith wasn’t just a once-in-forever artist, he also worked the system like a mastermind: he licensed and sold his work to fund democratic artwork that could be accessible to everyone, not just wealthy collectors. He sold his work affordably at the Pop Shop, and also reveled in the creation of subversive illegal murals. Of his public art, which occasionally got him arrested, he said:

“I kept seeing more and more of these black spaces, and I drew on them whenever I saw one. Because they were so fragile, people left them alone and respected them; they didn’t rub them out or try to mess them up. It gave them this other power. It was this chalk-white fragile thing in the middle of all this power and tension and violence that the subway was. People were completely enthralled.”

Here’s a clip of Keith getting led off in handcuffs:

Just look at this guy. How can you not fall in love? Thanks for everything, Keith. Miss you.

matt baume
matt baume


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