Author: Imogen Aldridge

Artist Feature: Keith Haring (1958 - 1990)

With his bold lines, bright colours and extraordinary mix of mediums, it’s no surprise that Keith Haring is instantly recognisable in the modern art world. Born in Pennsylvania, he trained in New York and first emerged on the East Village art scene in the 1980s.

Many of Haring’s most famous creations combine contemporary art practices with street-savvy graffiti, ultimately creating a brand-new aesthetic that’s highly skilled yet accessible to all. Although he sadly died young at the age of 31, he’s left a lasting legacy. Let’s take a closer look at Keith Haring’s short yet incredibly successful career.

Breaking into the East Village Art Scene

Haring grew up in Pennsylvania in the 1960s and fell in love with art after being taught how to draw cartoons by his father. By this time, Pop Art was in its golden years and there were numerous pop culture influences – including the cartoons of Walt Disney – that Haring is thought to have drawn inspiration from.

He enrolled at Pittsburgh’s Ivy School of Professional Art in 1976, but dropped out after just two semesters to pursue his own unique forms of art. After two years of private study, he moved to New York City and started at the prestigious School of Visual Arts. At the same time as gaining a formal education, he explored the city’s burgeoning alternative arts scene. Stepping away from museums and galleries, Haring made friends with graffiti artists, musicians and other innovators, including Kenny Scharf and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Over time, he developed his own expressionist form of graphic art that’s now become just as iconic as Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Can prints. Many of Haring’s best-known pieces are public works of art that were originally designed to support certain social or political causes. This work was continued through the Haring Foundation after the artist’s death from AIDS-related complications in 1990.

Keith Haring’s Most Famous Art 

From public murals to vibrant prints, Haring’s inimitable artwork spans multiple mediums. He packed the majority of his prolific career into one decade – the 1980s – although you’ll still spot his line drawing designs adorning clothing, shoes and homewares across the globe today.

Subway Drawings

Haring’s New York subway murals were some of his first pieces of public art and he created over 5000 between 1980 and 1985. He first got the idea after spotting several blank advertising panels and began drawing over them in white chalk. The drawings were designed to appeal to people of all ages, with the subject matter less politicised and more positive than his other works.  

While more traditional graffiti artists of the era used spray paints and almost always worked at night, Haring took a different approach. He created his chalk drawings during the daytime when the subway stations were busy and there was an audience for him to interact with. It was a great promotional tool and likely contributed to him becoming a household name.

Artist Feature: Keith Haring (1958 - 1990) | Image

Pop Shop

Ever seen a t-shirt or a pair of trainers adorned with a Haring print? Back in 1986, the artist actually opened up an entire store called the Pop Shop on Lafayette Street in Soho, NYC.

Its sole aim was to attract people from every walk of life and make his work – whether that was a t-shirt, a badge or a print – available to all. Or, in his own words: “The Pop Shop makes my work accessible. It’s about participation on a big level.” 

As well as selling wares emblazoned with his graphic designs, Haring also spent time designing and decorating the space itself; visitors could not only expect a shopping trip but a creative immersive experience. In 1987, he opened a second shop on the streets of Tokyo with a similar concept.

Haring’s works continue to remain popular in the world of streetwear, fitting in with his wish to make his work as widely accessible as possible. The Pop Shop in Soho remained open until 2005 before moving over to an online store.

Printmaking

As well as public street art, Haring’s main body of work consisted of dozens of pieces that used a variety of printmaking techniques such as screen printing, lithography and embossing. Most of his works feature patterns, contrasting colours and some aspect of movement – whether that’s through shape or simple repetition.

A lot of Haring’s art reflects on certain themes, with some of the more obvious ones being religion, war, sexuality and politics. Fundamentally though, his stylised creations often promoted love and unity – his figures were typically drawn without gender or a specific race and were often seen joyfully dancing.

You’ll spot a few repeating figures in some of Haring’s works too. This includes the Radiant Baby and the Barking Dog. While the former represents new life, innocence and positive energy, the latter first sprung up in his subway drawings and is thought to be symbolic of the power struggles and abuses of governments and other authoritative regimes.

Artist Feature: Keith Haring (1958 - 1990) | Image

Radiant Baby by Keith Haring

Keith Haring Art at Art Republic

Always wanted to own a Keith Haring print? His eye-catching style and often joyful themes make his graphic drawings the perfect match for any modern home. We stock a huge range of options, from monochrome posters to dynamic designs created for specific charitable events throughout Haring’s life.

Statue of Liberty

Artist Feature: Keith Haring (1958 - 1990) | Image

Statue of Liberty by Keith Haring

Add a little bit of New York City – Haring’s main stomping ground during his career – to your home with this glorious Statue of Liberty poster.

The image evokes celebration and is actually a smaller version of a huge banner that Haring was commissioned to create in 1986 to commemorate 100 years since the USA first received the Statue of Liberty from Paris. It’s a brilliant example of Haring’s use of bright colours and features a trio of figures jumping joyfully in the foreground.

Party of Life Invitation

Artist Feature: Keith Haring (1958 - 1990) | Image

Party of Life Invitation, 1986 by Keith Haring

If black and white artwork fits your home’s aesthetic, our 100cm x 100cm print of Haring’s Party of Life Invitation might just be a match made in heaven. It’s easily one of the most popular picks by the artist thanks in part to its use of solid black lines. The abstractness of the interlocking figures pulls it away from being true graffiti, while the lack of colour means it can fit into almost any décor theme.

Crack Down!

Artist Feature: Keith Haring (1958 - 1990) | Image

This unsigned lithograph was produced for the Crack-Down Fund Concert held in New York in 1986. It was organised to raise awareness of the growing drug problems in some of the city’s boroughs, with Haring’s designs used on posters promoting the event.

In addition to its dramatic use of colour, the lithograph poster is provocative and eye-catching in its subject matter. It’s also instantly recognisable as a Haring print due to both its cartoon-like figures and graphic lines. Want to make a statement in your living room or office? Crack Down! might just be the answer. 

Browse even more prints and posters from one of the most influential artists of the late 20th century in our full collection of Keith Haring prints. If you fancy similar art pieces but from a different artist, browse our collection of pop artwork.

Artist Feature: Keith Haring (1958 - 1990) | Image

Studio stock

£48

6 x 10 cm

Dreams Can Come True

55 x 56.5cm

£850

55 x 56.5cm

Masterpiece Minus Art Print by Remi Rough
Exclusive

Masterpiece Minus

42 x 29.7cm

£190

42 x 29.7cm

Love is the Drug - Pink Diamond Dust, 2020 Art Print by Ryan Callanan
Exclusive

£200

60 x 60cm

Debbie Harry Rainbow Art Print by Veebee
Exclusive
Veebee £160

£160

50 x 50cm

United Colour of London Art Print by Jayson Lilley
Exclusive

£195

31 x 24cm

Pangolin - Medium Art Print by Lisa Lloyd
Exclusive

Pangolin - Medium

40 x 40cm

£100

40 x 40cm

Not My First Rodeo (11th Edition) Art Print by Babak Ganjei
Exclusive

£135

50 x 70cm

Prince 2000 ZERO ZERO Art Print by Mike Edwards
Exclusive

£150

50 x 50cm

Rebel Rebel Art Print by R-W Studio
Exclusive

Rebel Rebel

50 x 50cm

£120

50 x 50cm

Choco POPek

15 x 12 x 6cm

£300

15 x 12 x 6cm

Pacific Grind

20.3 x 81cm

£200

20.3 x 81cm

Elvis Art Print by David Studwell
Exclusive

Elvis

50 x 50cm

£175

50 x 50cm

Gorilla - Lilac Foil

42 x 59.4cm

£195

42 x 59.4cm

MK-Ultra I

19 x 19cm

£65

19 x 19cm

Northern Scum Art Print by Katrina Russell-Adams
Exclusive

Northern Scum

29.7 x 42cm

£85

29.7 x 42cm

I Love London

22 x 17 cm

£60

22 x 17 cm

Kate Moss - Glow Art Print by VeeBee
Exclusive
VeeBee £285

Kate Moss - Glow

70 x 70 cm

£285

70 x 70 cm

£267

75 x 75cm

Humpek Purple Sculpture

12 x 6 x 12cm

£240

12 x 6 x 12cm

Fail Art Print by Babak Ganjei
Exclusive

Fail

50 x 70cm

£135

50 x 70cm

Sara Pope £150

Amped

18.3 x 18.3 x 3.2cm

£150

18.3 x 18.3 x 3.2cm

£165

45.72 x 60.96 cm

I Love Recycling

22 x 17 cm

£60

22 x 17 cm

£850

55 x 56.5cm

Ben Eine £35

£35

15 x 15cm each

R2Heart2 - Copper Art Print by RYCA
Exclusive
RYCA £150

R2Heart2 - Copper

50 x 70cm

£150

50 x 70cm

chatbot-image