Keith Haring- Life, paintings, contribution, death- Easy explanation
Keith Haring

Keith Haring- Life, paintings, contribution, death- Easy explanation

Keith Haring: In this article, you would know everything about Keith Haring- From his childhood to death. Keith Haring- Life, paintings, contribution, death- Easy explanation.


Keith Haring- Life, paintings, contribution, death- Easy explanation

Early life and beginnings

Allen Haring was the father of Keith Haring, who was an amateur cartoonist and engineer, Mr Keith Haring had taken his fundamental knowledge from his father. His mother, Joan Haring was a housewife.

Due to the job profile of his father, he also became interested in art when he was just nine years old. Mr Keith along with his three sistersKaren, Kay, Kristen, he used to make drawings. At a very young age, He started producing funny and creative illustrations.

That’s why we see cartoon characters in the drawings of Keith Haring. There are so many cartoon programmes in which this artist worked directly or indirectly such as Dr Seuss, Walt Disney cartoons, Looney Tunes and the Charles Schulz etc.

In his childhood, he used to go to the United Church of God with his whole family and also in his early age of teenage, and he joined Jesus Movement.

We see this attachment in the mural by Keith Haring in Barcelona wherein he has shown the relationship between religious sign and daily routine gestures and postures.

His father was a cartoonist who used to work for that time cartoon programmes, and Mr Keith Haring also decided to become an artist. Therefore he took admission in “Ivy School of Professional Art”.

He studied there from 1976 to 1978. But after many ups and downs, Keith Haring lost the interest in commercial art, and now he was not willing to pursue this study, he decided to leave this professional course.

Meanwhile, he read the book “The Art Spirit” of 1923 which inspired him most, and he decided to concentrate on his art instead of traditional way of art style.

And he joined the pop art movement as a collage artist. In his spare time, he used to draw graffiti.

But Mr Keith Haring was not from well to do family, that’s why for livelihood, he joined maintenance department in “Pittsburgh Center for the Arts”, where he met Jackson Pollock, Alechinsky, Mark Tobey and Jean Dubuffet.

They all were the known personalities in the field of various arts(Pop art, Abstract Expressionist etc.)

The work of Alechinsky influenced Keith Haring, Alechinsky was connected to CoBrA group which was the association of International Expressionist.

It gave motivation to Keith Haring to create or draw larger paintings. In which the maximum paintings were Calligraphic images. Along with the collaboration of Alechinsky, Keith Haring also received the assistance of Christo. He introduced many possibilities.

Due to the help of artists of CoBrA group- Jackson Pollock, Alechinsky, Mark Tobey and Jean Dubuffet, his solo exhibition was organised by this group in Pittsburgh (Center for the Arts) in 1978.

Keith Haring paintings

In his most paintings, we see the depiction of awareness against disease such as HIV/AIDS etc.

When Mr Keith Haring had started his art career when he used to draw paintings for his father’s profession because his father was a cartoonist who was full time drawing artist in cartoon programme- Walt Disney.

Indeed we see the effect of his father’s work, but after getting a job in Center for the Arts of Pittsburgh, he started his career as a commercial artist, through his paintings and drawings he tried to make a bridge between artistic expression and societal problems.

Thus, in the last days of his life, he used to make graffiti on societal, political and religious themes. He portrayed the bitter truth of societal and political upheaval through his calligraphic images, graffiti, and a large depiction of paintings.

Andy Warhol had been the theme of Keith Haring in many paintings. This artist inspired him most, and he met Andy Warhol with him in his production house “The Factory”. In several paintings including “Andy Mouse”, we see the depiction of his friendship.

To secure the paintings of Keith Haring, American textile building was dedicated to this artist who is situated in TriBeCa (Triangle Below Canal Street)(New York City).

Keith Haring Foundation

Keith Haring started his career as a cartoonist who was very far from commercial paintings.

But later, he started work for many nonprofit organisations which were active in the field of health awareness. Thus the foundation of “Keith Haring Foundation” had been laid.

In 1989, this foundation started work for those people who were the worst sufferers of sexual diseases. Initially, very few people came for to give financial assistance but soon the donors, supporter, and other artists of pop art started joining this foundation avidly.

It was started to raise funds from all over the world for HIV/AIDS patients and children suffering from starvation and hunger.

Through Keith Haring foundation, very soon people turned this initiative into the mass movement because, at that time, many people were suffering from this severe disease.

Indeed Keith Haring was gay, and he accepted this thing openly, but despite having this identity, he also spread awareness for safe sex.

Keith Haring was the torchbearer of “AIDS awareness” in New York City. Along with this awareness, he also used to express his political thought through his paintings.

We can see his depictions in his “Crack is Wack” painting wherein he has shown the simple relation between a healthy life and pop art.

Keith Haring Biography

International breakthrough

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art and National Gallery of Victoria, these were two bodies who first of all, recognised the work of Keith Haring.

Along with these paintings, his other painting of “Andy Warhol Mouse” became so famous, and Andy Warhol also gave space to the portraits of Keith Haring.

Keith Haring met Andy Warhol in his association “The Factory”. After this meeting, Keith Haring had said- Andy Warhol is a very cordial person, and I am feeling delighted.

His murals of Melbourne is very famous that was made in 1984. When he was in Australia, National Gallery of Victoria invited him for mural painting in Collingwood College (Victoria).

For the very first time, he received a commission which was given by this same Art Gallery (National Gallery of Victoria).

After this success, Mr Keith Haring also visited many places like  Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Manhattan, Minneapolis and  Rio de Janeiro. 

Indeed many people including artists used to say that his art style is like a cliché which has nothing new, his all depictions is repetitive and boring.

But despite having these perceptions, Keith Haring never stopped his work.

  • National Gallery of Victoria
  • Australian Centre for Contemporary Art
  • Rio de Janeiro
  • Stedelijk Museum
  • Berlin Wall
  • Statue of Liberty
  • Lucky Strike cigarettes, Coca-Cola
  • A mural by Haring in Barcelona

Keith Haring death cause

Keith Haring was a gay, but he always advocated safe sex, in his paintings of radiant babies, we can see the explicit depiction of his thought- He was the torch bearer of AIDS awareness campaign in New York city because in many paintings.

He spread the awareness between a healthy life and socially taboo things through his paintings. But it is unfortunate that in the year 1988, Mr Keith Haring was diagnosed with AIDS.

But still, he is remembered for his contribution, many art galleries such as Australian Centre for Contemporary Art and National Gallery of Victoria featured him 100 (solo and group) exhibitions.

In last years of life, Mr Keith Haring made many paintings to express his feelings, that’s why in many paintings, depictions, drawings and murals of Keith Haring, we see the content of awareness about AIDS

He used to make representations of radiant babies to express that how bad per se wrong activities with your partner can plunge you in the well of severe disease.

Still, to raise funds for this disease patients, Red Hot Organization organises AIDS awareness campaign. If you want to see the functions of this whole organisation, then you may prefer the “Truth or Dare” film.

Keith Haring Tattoo


The work of Keith Haring can be categorized in public and private collections, his collections are available in many art galleries, museums and foundations such as Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Victoria, Whitney Museum of American Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.

Description of some of them-

Museum of Modern Art- It’s a New York-based museum which organises auction and exhibition for the work of pop art artists, is located in Manhattan in Midtown. It’s a multi-storey building, and the museum is situated on 53rd Street (Between fifth and Sixth avenues).

Whitney Museum of American Art- This museum is also known as Whitney (Informally). It is also located in Manhattan. It was founded by Gertrude Whitney. He was a prominent and wealthy American who gave contribution in various fields of art.

  • Museum of Modern Art
  • Whitney Museum of American Art
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art
  • Art Institute of Chicago
  • New York Law School
  • Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris


In 1985, Keith Haring met Andy Warhol and Grace Jones, and his paintings had become famous in New York, Manhattan but still Keith Haring was not renowned in fashion and advertisement industry.

But with the collaboration of Grace Jones, he performed two life performance at Paradise Garage. Due to it, people used to say about this place- “Epicentre for black dance”.

It was the amusing performance of both Grace Jones and Keith Haring wherein Keith Haring covered Grace Jones’ body with graffiti. These were the same graffiti which Mr Keith Haring had made it before Paradise Garage’s performance.

After this successful performance, he became famous among the people of the Fashion world. He also collaborated with Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood.

They were the elite of the fashion world. His artwork A/W 1983/84 Witches collection became so famous which was made by Keith Haring for Madonna. Madonna performed her song –Like a Virgin-

Along with this song “Like a Virgin”, the work of Keith Haring also became famous. It is said that it was the first platform which had recognised Keith Haring as a costume designer.

Art market

After the death of Keith Haring, only “Keith Haring Foundation” is the body which still organises exhibition and auction programme for the artwork of this artist.

 Indeed there are many other museums, art galleries and foundations such as Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Whitney Museum of American Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, National Gallery of Victoria, and Australian Centre for Contemporary Art. But only you may trust on Keith Haring Foundation for authentic and original work.

Keith Haring Foundation- It is still active in New York and works in full swing.

It has a two-fold mission, First- Financing AIDS research and patient care system, Second- Supporting educational opportunities for children (underprivileged). In the case of piracy or copyright, it is held responsible.

Gladstone Gallery represents Keith Haring and Keith Haring Foundation in the Art market of the world.

In the preservation of Keith Haring art, the name of Tony Shafrazi is counted who devoted his professional life to this artist- He(Keith) was represented by art dealer Tony Shafrazi until his death.

Keith Haring

Authentication issues of Keith Haring paintings

There are many paintings and murals, but there is no catalogue raisonne.

There is copious information about Keith Haring- About his personal life, sexuality, paintings, collections etc. But lots of them are not authentic, and they are only the imitation of Keith Haring’s style.

Because the depictions of radiant babies and other characters were so easy and only idea behind those pictures was difficult.

In the painting “Crack is Wack”, in which he has tried to depict the relationship between artistic expression and HIV/AIDS awareness.

Keith Haring died on Feb 1990 due to AIDS-related complications and because he is represented by Keith Haring Foundation and by other 17 associations. It is very probable that you may get unauthentic paintings of Keith.

That’s why to curb the issue of authentication, a group of members of the elite class was introduced to check the authenticity of Keith Haring’s paintings.

But in 2012, due to some reasons, the Keith Haring Foundation had disbanded this authentication board.

That’s why a group of nine art collectors had filed a lawsuit in 2014 and said that the action of “Keith Haring Foundation” has taken the wrong step because it has limited the number of exhibitions in the public domain.

Personal life

Keith Haring was a commercial illustrator; this pop artist tried to address the problem of children’s starvation, homosexuality & AIDS  through his pop art paintings, you may see the explicit depiction of political and societal themes, paintings like as “The Boxers” and “Mural” in Amsterdam.

He was famous for the mural paintings represented by “Keith Haring Foundation”, and Google also honoured him on his 54th birthday by google doodle. Initially, he painted murals in the aisle of New York City whimsically, but later he devoted his life for social and political awareness.

And it can be seen in his work- homosexuality and Iconography on AIDS. Still, his personality is seen as a so-called campaigner (AIDS awareness agent) and street painter.

The most famous work of Keith Haring- Graffitis in New York City street and colourful murals in Amsterdam. His work got continuous popularity after his parody style paintings in New York City subways- Paintings of funny radiant babies, Advertising space backgrounds outlined by chalk, flying saucers, and deified dogs.

You may see his art style in Amsterdam gallery.

HIV/AIDS Patient

His AIDS awareness campaign is counted among the top work of American History because when the severity of this disease was at the peak, the Keith Haring devoted his all paintings for the awareness of this disease.

He had openly accepted that he is gay and he feels proud that he is one among the pioneers of the Gay lesbian movement.

He always emphasized on the healthy lifestyle- Means healthy physical relationship whether you are from any community (male, female, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender etc.), his later work (mural paintings- Crack is Wack) address many societal and political problem through his paintings- Especially AIDS and homosexuality through his iconographic paintings.

But it is an unfortunate thing that the reason behind Keith Haring’s death was- HIV/AIDS. On Feb 16, 1990, we lost this pop art artist.

 According to his medical report- AIDS-related complications was the reason behind his death. In 1988, Keith Haring was diagnosed with AIDS.

At that time, we had not that much medical assistance and facilities.

Still “Keith Haring Foundation” organises charity programme for patients who are suffering from this disease and can’t afford first medical facilities and assistance.

Keith Haring museums

Keith Haring visited various places and painted many murals. Especially his painting “Crack is Wack” became so famous when this was featured for the first time in Barcelona.

This was the paintings of radiant babies and flying saucers wherein he had depicted the relationship between artistic expression and awareness of AIDS disease and homosexuality.

To preserve the works of Keith Haring, two independent bodies were formed. First was- Keith Haring Foundation and the second was the group of pop art artists. They both used to check the authenticity of Keith Haring’s paintings.

If you want to see the real work of Keith Haring, then you should prefer one of the following.

Whitney Museum of American Art- It is located in Manhattan and known for its solo exhibition of Keith Haring, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney had laid the foundation stone of this museum in 1931.

Mr Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney was a prominent American who had also worked in the collaboration of this artist (Keith Haring).

Gladstone Gallery- It represents the Keith Haring Foundation. Barbara Gladstone was an American film producer and art dealer. This body also checks the authenticity of paintings made by Keith Haring.

  • Whitney Museum in New York
  • Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
  • Brooklyn Museum in New York
  • De Young Museum in San Francisco
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in Manhattan
  • Ludwig Museum in Cologne
  • Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam


Keith Haring completed his professional art study from “The Ivy School of Professional Art”. Keith Haring was both commercial illustrator and cartoonist.

His work “Crack is Wack” is counted among the topmost work. At the age of 24, when the first time he got recognition as a pop artist- then he quit his other part-time jobs and became a full-time commercial painter.

In 1984, he received the commission from Australian Centre for Contemporary Art and National Gallery of Victoria.

He met with Andy Warhol in his association “The Factory”. Keith Haring expressed his happiness- It was a lovely day for me, I met with him who is considered the pioneer of this art style and I will feel very proud if I work with this artist in future.

And after this meeting, Keith Haring started work for the societal and political cause. He showed his talent at many places such as Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and Rio de Janeiro.

Following are the list of awards, works and honours which Keith Haring received in his whole career.

Statue of Liberty- This statue was designed by Frederic Auguste (French sculptor). It’s a neoclassical sculpture that is situated in New York Harbor.

Keith Haring has worked with 1000 children in the project of its beautification.

Crack is Wack- This painting is the combination of radiant babies and flying saucers, and it is counted among the notable work of Keith Haring. This artist received the award for this work- “The Award.”

 Google Doodle- On the occasion of his 54th birthday of Keith Haring, Google Doodle(Signifies achievements, holidays, events etc.) featured him in his google logo box.

Keith Haring Tattoo
  • The Art Award

Producer and product

Crack is Wack- Keith Haring created this mural in 1986, it’s a depiction of radiant babies and flying saucers, and through this painting, he criticised the avoidance of all concerned bodies that were in the work of HIV/AIDS eradication.

The Painting of Keith Haring is visible from FDR Drive (New York City).

German flag- Checkpoint Charlie Museum had given a project to Keith Haring to paint the Berlin Wall. This length of this mural was 300 meters, and he depicted this wall with black and red interlocking.

This mural was the symbol of unity between West and East Germany. It was the representation of the “German Flag”.

Murals- His first mural painting of Barcelona (Spain) became famous, and he received the commission for this painting. Mr Keith Haring was the sincere belief that the menace of insecure sexual intercourse could be tackled by awareness only.

That’s why we see the depiction of logos (Radiant babies) and sexual gestures of people which show- What to do and what not to do.

In most of his murals, we see the repetition of the same kind of art which is nothing but the imitation of sexual gestures and postures.

Awareness programme- Keith Haring was an American artist whose art style worked as the awareness weapon when the severity of sexual disease was at the peak in America.

People liked his continuous pattern of meaningful gestures. Still, his paintings (mural) may be seen in the streets and aisles of New York City.

His paintings flooded subways of New York City. And his Crack is Wack painting was most famous paintings among those murals.

  • 100 solo and group exhibitions
  • 50 public artworks
  • A mural by Haring in Barcelona
  • Keith Haring pop shop

Keith Haring pop shop

Copious information, unauthentic paintings and bogus work of Keith Haring was flooded in New York markets (Museums, art galleries, exhibitions).

To curb these things, an association came into existence to check the authenticity of the work of Keith Haring. Its name was a Pop shop which was opened in Soho. This shop introduced all works (original imitation of Keith Haring’s paintings, depiction and picture of radiant babies etc.) at a single place.

Now all artworks were available in the single purview.

Per se, initially Keith Haring was not a commercial illustrator, but this Pop shop presented Keith Haring as a professional painter/artist.

Due to this commercialisation, he started depicting more socio-political themes in his paintings such as AIDS awareness, crack cocaine epidemic and anti Apartheid. Like Andy Warhol, he also became famous among advertisement industries, big companies and the film industry.

Keith Haring also created many pop art pieces influenced by many other commercial products such as Lucky Strike cigarettes, Absolut Vodka and Coca Cola etc.

Along with commercial illustration, Mr Keith Haring also made/designed the cover of the album “A Very Special Christmas” that was featured in the Pop Shop.

Keith Haring radiant baby

”Crack is Wack” and “The Radiant Baby” was his most famous depiction of 1980. In 1980, Mr Keith Haring had organised an exhibition at Club 57(It was a nightclub- situated at 57, New York City). He made a painting with vivid and bold colours/lines.

Vivid colour with bold lines spread the message of unity and life which was appreciated by then time members of “The Independent Group”.

And after it, Keith Haring participated in the “Times Square Exhibition”. Here we saw a unique art style of Keith Haring in which he had drawn human faces and various animals in his paintings for the first time.

Along with mural painter, he was also a collage artist who cut colourful papers and photocopied it, and he pasted this provocative collages around the city (New York City).

One of his work of 1982 which depicts two figures of the radiant baby in which first show- Heart love motif and the second shows- Homosexual love.

Keith Haring led “The Radiant Child Keith Haring and the Jesus Movement” which was retrieved on Nov 8, 2017.

Crack Is Wack

Keith Haring Crack is Wack

 “Crack is Wack” is very notable work of Keith Haring which was the mural painting. After finishing his professional study. Mr Keith Haring had started professional mural painting after recognization from National Gallery of Victoria, and after its recognition, one more association came forward for financial assistance, it was- The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art.

In 1984, he had made a unique mural painting which had replaced the water curtain at the National Gallery of Victoria.

This painting (Crack Is Wack) is arguably known as his most legendary work. This Keith Haring’s painting is the most iconic mural in New York City. This double-sided mural is located in Manhattan at its 128th street, next to the Harlem River Drive, this painting possibly plays a significant role here, it’s an attraction of commuters of here.

Keith Haring tattoo

For many people, primarily concerned with pop art movement and Keith Haring Foundation- It’s a great source of inspiration because these tattoos are nothing but the depictions of Keith Haring’s mural painting of Radiant baby and the flying saucer.

There are so many examples of Keith Haring’s tattoos wherein topmost are- Chocolate Buddha 1, Montreux, We the Youth, Piglet Goes Shopping, Brazil, Radiant Baby (from Icons series), Free South Africa etc.

These paintings are the cause of their continuation in the field of awareness for Homosexuality and HIV/AIDS. Along with his tattoo, there are so many other things that you may prefer in his reminiscence. For example-

Keith Haring angel, Keith Haring dancing man, Keith haring heart, Keith Haring artworks, Keith Haring shirt etc.

If you want to get his art tattooed on your body then Pinterest, Pexels and Unplash are the best sources of content from where you get the best imitation of his art.

These are some famous tattoos name of Keith Haring.

  • Keith Haring angel
  • Keith Haring dancing man
  • Keith Haring dog tattoo
  • Keith Haring tribute tattoo
  • We heart Keith Haring       

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