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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 emerged from the New York City graffiti subculture of the 1980s. His animated imagery has "become a widely recognized visual language". Much of his work includes sexual allusions that turned into social activism by using the images to advocate for safe sex and AIDS awareness. In addition to solo gallery exhibitions, Haring participated in renowned national and international group shows such as documenta in Kassel, the Whitney Biennial in New York, the São Paulo Biennial, and the Venice Biennale. The Whitney Museum held a retrospective of his art in 1997.

Haring's popularity grew from his spontaneous drawings in New York City subways—chalk outlines of figures, dogs, and other stylized images on blank black advertising spaces. After gaining public recognition, he created colorful larger scale murals, many commissioned. He produced more than 50 public artworks between 1982 and 1989, many were created voluntarily for hospitals, day care centers, and schools. In 1986, Haring opened the Pop Shop as an extension of his work. His later work often conveyed political and societal themes— anti-crack, anti-apartheid, safe sex, 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 in San Francisco, a walk of fame noting LGBTQ people who have "made significant contributions in their fields." In 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 in New York City's Stonewall Inn.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Keith Haring