Keith Haring (born in 1958 – dies 1990) was an American graphic artist and designer who popularized some of the strategies and impulses of graffiti art.

Known for his mural paintings and graffiti’s in the New York subway, in the 1980’s, Keith Haring was the perfect urban artist.


After a brief period studying at the Ivy School of Art in Pittsburgh, Haring moved to New York City in 1978 to attend the School of Visual Arts. With fellow artists Kenny Scharf and Jean Michel Basquiat, Haring immersed himself in the punk clubs and street art scene of New York. In 1981 he began drawing graffiti, unauthorized chalk drawings on blank black advertising panels in the New York subways.

These would eventually number in the thousands, and they quickly created a popular following, for his lively figural and patterned imagery, and his cheekily outlaw activity. Haring shared few of the “tagging” tactics of urban graffitists, being drawn instead of the possibilities of a new public and vernacular kind of signage.

As a greatly ambitious and generous person, his idea is to create works with a strong universal vocation. He always wanted to move art out of museums for it to cover the streets and cities, in order to share it with everyone.

He began making large outdoor murals, eventually executing them in Rio de Janeiro, Berlin, Melbourne, Chicago, Atlanta, and elsewhere, often assisted by scores of children. Haring’s ebullient personality, infectious sense of play, and universally understood hieroglyphic style brought him attention from the mainstream press and transferred easily into his work in music videos and fashion design. In 1986 Haring opened a store called the Pop Shop in New York City, where he marketed products that ranged from T-shirts and pin-on buttons to original prints. He opened a Tokyo branch of the shop in 1988.

One of the main characteristics of Keith Haring is his thick black strokes, representing joyful drawings inspired by cartoons; geometrical shapes as well as hieroglyphs associated with color to bring joy of life. He manages, with the use of this thick black stroke, to create extraordinary patterns and to invent a sort of language understood by all. His art works have always been created spontaneously, without any preparation or drafts.

Moreover, Keith Haring dreams of changing the world. Through his art, we can decrypt various different menaces that weigh on humanity. His art work is imbued with some of his preoccupations, like his opposition to the power of states (sign: the wolf/dog representing the state); to religion (sign: cross penetrating bodies), media manipulation (tv and computer screens replacing the human brain), capitalism (sign: dollar, USA, Coke), the end of humanity (sign: nuclear bomb) and towards the end of his life, the theme of sexuality, of AIDS and of death (sign: red dots).

Keith Haring passes away as an aftermath of Aids at the young age of 31. He shared his art with the world and left behind him a great heritage for future generations.