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Keith Haring ...

18th January, 2018 by Connor

I can’t remember being properly introduced to Keith Haring’s artwork yet he’s become one of my favourite artists.

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Haring was able to reduce shapes and objects into incredibly basic forms, yet the subject of his art was often related to dark and complex issues. Haring crafted his style on the New York subway. Black panels where adverts would sit were often vacant, providing the perfect canvas for Haring to leave his artwork – meaning it would be quick and spontaneous.

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In January 2016 I finally got to see a large-scale piece in Barcelona - located outside the MACBA. The artwork, 30 metres in length, is called TODOS JUNTOS PODEMOS PARAR EL SIDA, which translates to Together We Can Stop AIDS.
Haring suffered from AIDS himself and this piece depicts AIDS as a serpent armed with a syringe, being cut in half by a couple who are shaped like a pair of scissors. The snake wraps around another couple creating a juxtaposition of safe and unsafe sex. A family runs scared from the open mouthed snake and there is also a portrayal of ignorance - the see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil image. The only colour used in this mural is red: focusing solely on blood.

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Following my first encounter with a Keith Haring mural, I scouted out another large piece whilst on my travels in Pisa. TUTTOMUNDO – was the last Haring would ever paint, just months before his death. Tuttomundo translates to ‘The Whole World’ and encompasses Haring’s outlook on life. The fluidity and jigsaw-like composition demonstrates harmony, as well as nods to: life through birth and death; man supporting nature; and man defeating evil. Compared to Haring’s usual tones, the colours in this mural are slightly muted which mirror the palette of the surroundings.

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In August 2017, I had the pleasure of visiting the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg for the Keith Haring ‘Posters’ exhibition. This exhibition brought together over 100 smaller pieces alongside products, merchandise and record sleeves.

Haring’s abundance of character shines through in his work and leaves a legacy and wealth of art enjoyed by the masses. His website features an interactive map of Haring’s murals that are still in their original location – a tool I may use for planning future trips!

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