February 16th marked the 30th anniversary of Keith Haring’s death. After
all this time, there is one thing to us that’s clear: Haring is still as
popular as ever.
Haring was a true original within the art world. His work grew to
popularity from his spontaneous drawings in New York City subways, chalk
outlines of figures, dogs, and other stylized images on blank black advertising-space
backgrounds. Creating an exhilarating combination of pop art and graffiti, the
artist took inspiration from the underground cultures he immersed himself in,
never forgetting to also give back. His later work often addressed political
and societal themes, especially homosexuality and AIDS through his own
iconography. Much of his work includes sexual allusions that turned into social
activism. He achieved this by using sexual images to advocate for safe sex and
AIDS awareness. The political and social messages in his work were often in
contrast to government policy and action. He merged the worlds of politics and
art to hone a distinct voice that spread like light in darker times.
Haring created works of art across many mediums that could be
appreciated without a comprehensive understanding of art history and theory. In
many ways the accessibility of Haring’s art was important for two reasons: it
was a reminder that art is for all and it created a platform to spread his
Despite the artist’s desire to democratize his art for ordinary people,
the market quickly appropriated his image to drastically increase its value.
The Keith Haring Foundation, established by the artist during his lifetime,
however, continues his artistic and philanthropic legacy by preserving his
creations and supporting children in need and people living with AIDS.
Keith Haring passed away on February 16th, 1990. 30 years later, still
exhibited all around the world and more popular than ever, the life and legacy
of Keith Haring live on.