Keith Haring was an artist who made a name for himself as a homosexual cartoonist and sculptor up until the late 1980’s before he died of AIDS related complications in 1990. Throughout his work, Haring expressed concepts of birth, death, sex, and war. He became inspired by “cut-up” art or word juxtaposition-techniques that he referred to as “Smart Art.” Keith Haring has very few role models that were out-of-the-closet gay American artists to point him toward a way to be gay and an an artist in America. Despite the few markers along his route, haring found the way to make in-your-face, proud-to-be-gay, homoerotically explicit artworks. He said that being mortally ill had given him a new appreciation of life.
In a ‘Rolling Stone’ interview, a year before Haring’s death in 1990, he said, “When I paint, it is an experience that, at its best, is transcending reality. When it is working, you completely go to another place, you’re tapping into things that are totally universal, of the total consciousness, completely beyond your ego and your own self.” He was a man who stood up for what he believed in without a care in the world. Haring was all about having his work mean something and allowing it to make a lasting impression. In a Macweek interview, in 1989, Haring said “I like the idea that my art could be on a floppy disk and you could send the floppy disk back and forth or even send the information by telephone. If I had a bank of images on tape or floppy disk, someone could take those images as a starting point, the raw material, and do whatever they want with them and take the head off one thing and put it on something else and change the color.”
Haring’s official debut as a sculptor came on October 26, 1985, when a series of free-standing figures, cut from steel and brightly lacquered, went on view at Leo Castelli’s Green Street gallery in New York. The hundred-foot side walls were covered with a frieze of carbon characters that, to Castelli’s astonishment, Haring completed in a single day. During the next five years, Haring would greatly extend his sculptural repertoire, revealing waxing confidence and an eagerness to experiment with 3-D forms.
More information about Keith Haring can be seen in my powerpoint presentation in collaboration with Jackie.
Thank you for a great year Joel!