Keith Haring: Bridging the gap between the art world and the street.
Keith Haring is now a household name. He is known for the progression of artistic movements, experimenting with styles from expressionism to pop art. Haring’s work combines a distinct pop-graffiti aesthetic centred on fluid bold outlines against dense, rhythmic imagery of babies, barking dogs, flying saucers and hearts.
Raised in Pennsylvania, Haring came to New York in the late 1970s and attended the School of Visual Arts. Soon after moving to the city, he discovered that the most beautiful paintings he saw were on subways, by graffiti artists. Haring begun his subway drawings anonymously and became a celebrity underground and above. In 1982 Haring began to show his art at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery, which would represent him for the rest of his career.
Haring used his artist’s platform to raise awareness for social and political issues, such as the battle to end Apartheid, the AIDS epidemic and drug abuse. In 1988 Haring was diagnosed with AIDS. This pushed him deeply to raise awareness further; he wanted to reach as many people as possible to highlight the importance of AIDS and education.
In the last year of his life, Keith Haring produced Silence = Death. This is now widely known as one of his most prolific works to AIDS awareness and activism. In this piece, there are stick figures outlined in bold lines inside and around a pink triangle. The pink triangle had been appropriated from a symbol used during the holocaust to indicate the people who were singled out for their homosexuality. The figures vary from covering their ears, their mouths and their eyes representing the ‘Hear no evil, See no evil, Speak no evil’ to the people suffering from AIDS who felt as if they had been silenced and cast away from society because of the disease.
Haring was 31 years old at the time of his death. His art is still exhibited worldwide and many of his works are owned by prestigious museums. Haring’s art, with its deceptively simple style and its deeper themes of love, death, war and social harmony continues to appeal strongly to viewers.
We are lucky enough to be featuring a collection of screen prints by Keith Haring within the Prints & Multiples July auction. Included in this collection is Silence = Death, one of Haring’s most recognised pieces created towards the end of his career.
HANNAH RYAN / Prints & Multiples Manager