Iconic Street Artist Keith Haring is being celebrated at Tate Liverpool in the first major exhibition of his work in the UK.
Born in Pennsylvania, in 1958 Haring loved drawing cartoons with his father. This influence can be seen in his work and he retained this bold and simple style throughout his life. After moving to New York he progressed to drawing chalk outlines of figures, dogs, and other stylized images onto the streets and quickly became a part of the legendary New York art scene of the 1980s.
His distinctive figures were cute and playful often conveying a message that spoke a thousand words. Much of his work was a response to social and political events happening at the time, such as Apartheid, the AIDS epidemic and drug abuse. He was an activist, but the pieces remained upbeat and optimistic.
Examples of Keith Haring’s work:
Keith Haring’s legacy paved the way for the street artists of today. Initially being arrested multiple times for vandalism, he eventually gained celebrity status for his graffiti as his pieces became more recognised, appreciated and sought after.
He bridged the gap between highbrow and lowbrow – painting the streets with fine art and bringing street art into a fine art gallery. Subway stations became art galleries and art galleries became night clubs. He always questioned the status quo. Despite his growing fame he wanted his art to be accessible and inclusive to all. Inspired by his friend Andy Warhol, he had no qualms about being a commercial brand and had his ‘Baby and Barking Dog’ designs emblazoned on a range of merchandise to bring his art to the masses. His philosophy was that art was for everyone and should be everywhere, not just inside museums and galleries. He wanted to reach more people so a more diverse range of people could appreciate the art.
“Art lives through the imaginations of the people who are seeing it. Without that contact, there is no art.” Keith Haring, Flash Art, March 1984
We have been looking at some of our street artists in the artrepublic gallery to see the comparisons between their work and how Keith Haring has influenced them
Banksy Gangsta Rat
Keith Haring was among the first artists to embrace disseminating his imagery in different ways. Although best known for his satirical stencil graffiti, Banksy has now become the master of ingenious ways to gain attention for his work. From his Princess Diana printed £10 notes which he threw into the crowd at Notting Hill Carnival, to his ‘Dismaland’ theme park, to the sabotaging his own work being auctioned at Sotheby’s with a shredder built into the picture frame. They have all made the news and brought his artwork to the masses.
Maser Translation XII
Keith Haring’s street art style became so well known that he soon built a language out of the simple symbols that he used. Irish street artist Maser has a distinct palette of colours and bold shapes that he uses to build a style and is instantly recognisable as a ‘Maser’ whether the piece be a large scale mural, small print or more recently a yoga mat!
Pure Evil Jane Fonda
Not afraid to use art as a political, social or cultural commentary. Like Keith Haring, Pure Evil uses art as an outlet in producing visual imagery that speaks louder than words. In the same way Keith Haring had a consistent style that made his work easily identified, Pure Evil has made the tear that drips from his subjects’ eye the trade mark he is known and loved for.
Continues to bridge the gap between street art and fine art with ‘Alice’ available as a print but can also be seen on the streets in Brighton. In the same way Keith Haring would use playful imagery combined with an important message, Eelus balances humour with the macabre to make social commentary through his work.
RYCA Love and Happy Beams
Keith Haring’s artwork help shape the style of rave culture – something which is prominent in Ryca’s work. The similarities between their work can be seen in the thick outlines they both use to frame bright and bold shapes and colours.
Catch the Keith Haring exhibition at Tate Liverpool from now until the 10th November 2019.
Find artists inspired at the artrepublic Brighton gallery
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