Keith Haring
American artist and social activist



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Keith Haring
American artist and social activist
Average: 5 (2 votes)

Birth Date


Death Date

February 16, 1990

More about Keith Haring

ajardini's picture

Sr. Editor

Even if you’ve never heard of Keith Haring, I’m sure you’ve seen his squiggly stick figures on a hipster’s t-shirt. 

His quirky style may have been influenced by his Pa, who was a cartoonist.  Haring began as a street artist and would vandalize subway signs and billboards with his bright graphics that told stories of urban life.

His career took off and like every successful person, he was accused of “selling out.”  Haters gunna hate! But even though he designed a jacket for Madonna, a lot of Haring’s stuff was politically motivated public art, bringing worthy messages to the masses. He brought awareness to Apartheid, AIDS and the growing crack-cocaine epidemic. 

The openly gay artist was diagnosed with AIDS at the age of 30 and used his last remaining years to raise funding for AIDS organizations and children’s charities.  If every artist who “sold out” used their money like that, maybe we wouldn’t mind so much.

He's been honored by famous musicians, other artists and the LGBTQ community. Check out perhaps his highest honor: the Google doodle.


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Here is what Wikipedia says about Keith Haring

Keith Allen Haring (May 4, 1958 – February 16, 1990) was an American artist whose pop art and graffiti-like work grew out of the New York City street culture of the 1980s. Much of his work includes sexual allusions that turned into social activism. He achieved this by using sexual images to advocate for safe sex and AIDS awareness.

Haring's work grew to popularity from his spontaneous drawings in New York City subways—chalk outlines of figures, dogs, and other stylized images on blank black advertising-space backgrounds. After public recognition he created larger scale works, such as colorful murals, many of them commissioned. His imagery has "become a widely recognized visual language". His later work often addressed political and societal themes—especially homosexuality and AIDS—through his own iconography.

Haring died on February 16, 1990, of AIDS-related complications. In 2014 Haring was one of the inaugural honorees in the Rainbow Honor Walk, a walk of fame in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood noting LGBTQ people who have "made significant contributions in their fields." In June 2019, Haring was one of the inaugural fifty American "pioneers, trailblazers, and heroes" inducted on the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor within the Stonewall National Monument (SNM) in New York City's Stonewall Inn.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Keith Haring.