I've been so wrapped up in Graffiti recently, I've been writing my 8000 word dissertation on graffiti, I've planned trips and photo shoots to find graffiti and I've been making art work heavily influenced by graffiti artists. Since I love graffiti so much, I've decided to share with you one of the most influential graffiti artists who set the whole trend off in the 1980s, Keith Haring.
Keith Haring the artist who died in 1990 at age 31, painted for only ten years, but his legacy is still being lived strong and is influencing many even today. Haring believed he could change the world with his art, with his spontaneous drawings of the world around him. A taught artist who was openly homosexual, Haring had his first exhibition in Pittsburgh, 1978 and this work peaked with great success in the 1980s. With friends such as Andy Warhol and Jean Michel Basquiat, Haring was very much into the 1980s New York hip-hop music, arts and club scene and was influenced by the New York lifestyle. He would often hold group events such as exhibitions and live music nights at Club 57 and The Mudd Club. Haring took any surface possible and made it his art, taking inspiration from friends, childhood Disney cartoons and events that he heard about from TV, he tagged graffiti on old doors and brick walls with graffiti of barking dogs or crawling babies with marker pens.
Haring was interested in communicating with the mass public and advertising his work. At the start of his career, he exhibited his work on the streets so it could be accessible for all. He wasn’t interested in money, he just wanted to be recognised, and wanted people to know his style and messages. After time, his graffiti tags had become well known around New York, so he sought out new places to advertise his art. He opened up his first Pop Shop in 1986 in SoHo, New York. There he connected with the public long after his work strayed from back alleys and abandoned objects. He sold t-shirts, stickers and badges all with his personal logos on; this made his personal style recognisable and ever more famous. The New York subways were his next move – drawing over things such as Coca Cola posters. He called the subways his laboratory , a suggestion that he was experimenting and was unsure of the outcome. His work turned from simplistic black marker drawings of babies and smiley faces, to much larger white chalk drawings that were temporary. Unlike the marker drawings, the chalk drawings took longer and were made in a place where anybody could see, but also destroy his work.