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Keith Haring, the world is a canvas

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Keith Haring

“The greatest reason to paint is that there is no reason to paint.”

Destined to become one of the most symbolic and original representative of the Neo pop art movement, Keith Haring was born in Pennsylvania on May 4, 1958. As soon as he became adult, he moved to Pittsburgh where he attended the Ivy School of Professional Art, but in a short time he started to feel himself surrounded by the artistic dimension that didn’t represent him, therefore he dropped the school and started to travel. His relationship with Andy Warhol is very important and marked him notably. He started to work on the streets of New York in the eighties, the maximum growth of the market and the interest in the contemporary art. Haring immediatetly found his means and style, a kind of factory brand: he drawed stylised puppets with a white chalks in the New York subway.

In 1982 he organised his first personal exhibition that brought him an international fame and a very quick and brief artistic and commercial success. In 1986 he opened the first Pop shop in New York, where the audience could buy gadgets and watch the working artist. The immediate disapproval of critics didn’t stop him from the opening a branch in Hong Kong. He drawed on a piece of the Berlin Wall. His artistic contribution arrived also in Italy: he exposed at the Venice Biennale, decorated the walls of the Fiorucci shop in Milan and created, in 1989, a big mural Tuttomondo near the church of Saint Anthony in Pisa. In 1988 he announced publicly that he was diagnosed with AIDS. Two years later he died at the age of 32.

“In my life I’ve done a lot of things, earned a lot of money and have had a lot fun. But I also lived in New York during the heyday of sexual promiscuity. If I don’t get AIDS, then no one will.”

His Radiant babies, Antic Everymen and Barkings dogs, immersed into graphic stream that gave life to a and original and unique visual language, embellish public spaces of many cities around the world. The essence of his art consists exactly in his instinctivity, a kind of a claim for simplicity that can appear like scribble, but really is a bearer of a significant morality. Keith invented a new language composed of infantile and primitive templates distinguished by a continous black sign that immitates clearly comics. He didn’t paint on the canvas or paper sheet but on the spaces that should be filled, spaces – bearers of messages. The walls and subways were abodes of the new way of communication and self-expression. But not only, the works of Haring matches well with gadgets, shirts and so on. Fashion celebrates him with a series of iconic models that include footwear from Reebok, dresses by Castelbajac, bags by Samsonite and boots signed Nicholas Kirkwood.

“My drawings might be drawn on any support or material, like Egyptian hieroglyphs or Maya or Indio pictograms. My drawings aim to activate a surface and spread energy. And transform a neutral anonymous surface by giving it personality.”

Keith Haring
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