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Born on 4 May 1958, Keith Haring grew in Kutztown and spent his childhood learning cartoon drawing from his father, whilst also devoting his time to more serious painting and drawing skills.
After graduating from high school in 1976, Haring enrolled as a student at the Pittsburgh based Ivy School of Professional Art, studying graphic design. He realized that he didnt want to illustrate commercially, so moved to New York to continue his education at the prestigious School of Visual Arts. During his studies, Haring discovered the vibrant graffiti from the subways and streets that was to influence his later work.
Haring's attraction to this underground strain of artistic subculture brought him into contact with Kenny Scharf and Jean-Michel Basquiat (the subject of a Julian Schnabel directed biographical film) with whom he worked on exhibitions and performances. He received major public attention between 1980-1985 with a series of chalk drawings of comic-like stick figures on black billboards. The exhibition gave rise to his signature Radiant Baby - a drawing of a baby with a halo.
Haring's use of bold lines and active figures in vivid colours demonstrate life-enhancing messages of unity. Having organized and participated in numerous exhibitions around New York, Haring gained international recognition by showing in Berlin, Australia, Amsterdam, Paris and the Sao Paolo Biennial.
Haring blurred the boundaries of high art and low art by expressing concepts on birth, death, love, sex and war through his public art murals. His most iconic works to date are the colourful murals he did on the streets of Berlin and New York.
In 1988, Haring was diagnosed with AIDS and a year later the Keith Haring Foundation was established to provide funding and imagery to AIDS organizations and children's programs. During the last years of his life, Haring's work began to take on more socio-political themes, such as anti-Apartheid, awareness of AIDS and the crack cocaine epidemic.
On 16 February 1990, Haring died of AIDS-related complications in New York, his life cut short at the tragically early age of 31.