May 4, 2013
A contemporary of Basquiat and Warhol, KEITH HARING (1958–90) made his mark on the avant-garde New York art world literally, by painting on billboards and in subway tunnels, with chalk and spray paint, in murals and graffiti tags. His almost aboriginal, somewhat psychedelic, particularly populist style, along with his devotion to social justice and his anti-AIDS campaign, made him a darling of the 1980s scene, his images appearing on everything from t-shirts and baseball caps to record covers and wine labels. From radiant babies to mythological man-beasts, Haring’s cartoonlike creations came to represent the ethos of an era, best summed up by his East Harlem graffiti mural that says “Crack is Wack.” (He got a $25 ticket for painting the graffiti, then was asked by the Parks Department to come back and finish it.) The artist died young of AIDS-related complications, but his luminous beings live on through the Keith Haring Foundation, dedicated to helping children and those affected by HIV.
On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Jane Jacobs.
READ MORE about members of the Original Generation X (1954–1963).