Keith Haring would have turned 54 today if his life had not been cut short at such an early age. A few weeks ago I went to seen an exhibition of his work at the Brooklyn Museum and was left stunned by the talent he possessed, evident in his early work to the stuff he did last. His colorful childlike images often tell a deeper story which I find fascinating.
Much of his work was public work from the early days doing drawings in the NYC subway, to creating countless murals all over the world on the street, in orphanages, charities, hospitals and various other place. These works often carried social messages, such as the infamous Crack Is Wack mural which originated the phrase. His activism also led him to set up the Keith Haring Foundation, which seeks to provide help to not-for-profit organizations that help children and education, research and care related to AIDs
As many of you will know Keith was best friends with Madonna, they roamed the streets together after her move to NYC in the early 80s, and their friendship lasted until he died in 199o. In the below video you’ll see Madonna dressed head to toe in a Keith Haring designed jacket and skirt performing Dress You Up at his birthday party in 1984 at Paradise Garage. The full clip of this night has never surfaced but we keep the faith that one day we’ll get to see it.
If you’re interested in learning more about Keith Haring, a great starting point is the documentary The Universe of Keith Haring which is available for streaming on Neflix. If you’re in NYC head to the Brooklyn Museum and check out the exhibition!