Iconic pop artist Keith Haring is honoured today – his birthday – by the latest Google Doodle that copycats his style.
In the early 1980s, Haring exploded on the New York art scene with a series of chalk drawings in the subways that featured bold lines, vivid colors, and primitivistic, cartoony figures. He got to know Andy Warhol, who would feature as a theme of several of Haring’s pieces including ‘Andy Mouse.’ His friendship with Warhol would prove to be a decisive element in his eventual success. Keith would become a key design figure for edgy 1980s celebrities such as Madonna, but equally was being solicited by the advertising industry thanks to the clearly communicative quality of his artwork: while he would undertake the body painting required by Grace Jones for her music video ‘I’m Not Perfect’, he would also create the marketing imagery for Absolut Vodka and Swatch watches.
In 1986 Haring opened a small shop in SoHo called Pop Shop, selling merchandise bearing his iconic images including t-shirts, toys, posters and other objects with reproductions of his art: ‘My shop is an extension of what I was doing in the subway stations, breaking down the barriers between high and low art’, he explained.
Keith Haring was openly gay and was a strong advocate of safe sex; however, in 1988, Haring was diagnosed with AIDS. As a result, Haring established the Keith Haring Foundation in an effort to provide funding and imagery to AIDS charities. Haring enlisted his imagery during the last years of his life to speak about his own illness and generate activism and awareness about AIDS.
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