Plaque Sponsor

Paul Highfield, Myron Mix, Elizabeth Liechty, Chris Pritchard, Eddie Seslowsky, Kirin Dolezal, Paul Desousa and Patrick F. Torres

1958 - 1990

"I don't think art is propaganda; it should be something that liberates the soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further. It celebrates humanity instead of manipulating it."

- Keith Haring

In 1978, Keith Haring moved to New York to attend the School of Visual Arts. Energized by the influences he encountered, he developed a graffiti-inspired style emphasizing the line. Seeking to work outside the conventional art world, and committed to involving the public in his art, Haring began his series of “subway drawings” – recurring images drawn in chalk on expired advertising panels lining subway station walls throughout the city. The subway became a laboratory for Haring to work out his ideas, iconography and narratives. Executed at all times of the day, in full view of commuters, his drawings attracted a growing number fans (whose interaction he cultivated) as well as the police (who arrested him several times for criminal mischief). His style soon became associated with the tribal undercurrents that permeated metropolitan life; and overtones of his homosexuality can be found throughout the works he created in his decade-long career. The subway drawings and his shows in numerous alternative exhibition spaces received much notice, but it was a solo show at a Soho gallery in 1982 which launched his meteoric ascent. Haring was politically involved, designing anti-nuclear posters (1982); posters for an anti-apartheid campaign (1985); and painting a portion of the Berlin Wall (1986). By 1989 his work had also become synonymous with the AIDS activist movement. Commercially, Haring worked for such clients as Swatch and Absolut Vodka. In 1986, in an effort to keep his imagery affordable, he opened a store in Manhattan – the Pop Shop – featuring merchandise bearing his own artwork. Just as Andy Warhol defined the 1960s, Keith Haring defined the 1980s. Haring’s creativity bridged the gap between consumerism, pop culture and fine art. His pioneering vision remains an inspiration to artists today. Haring died of complications due to HIV in 1990. He was 31.

Plaque Sponsor

Paul Highfield, Myron Mix, Elizabeth Liechty, Chris Pritchard, Eddie Seslowsky, Kirin Dolezal, Paul Desousa and Patrick F. Torres

Lesson Plan


Gender Male

Sexual Orientation Gay

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White

Nations Affiliated United States

Era/Epoch AIDS Era (1980-present) Information Age (1970-present) Post-Stonewall Era (1974-1980)

Field(s) of Contribution

Advocacy & Activism


Art, Music, Literature & Theater


Social Justice

Social Sciences

US History

Commemorations & Honors

Keith Haring Foundation Established by Him (1989)

Nakamura Keith Haring Collection in Hokuto Japan Established (2007)

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon Tribute (2008)

Google Doodle Commemorating Haring's 54th Birthday (2012)

Inaugural San Francisco Rainbow Honor Walk Honoree (2014)

National LGBTQ Wall of Honor at the Stonewall National Monument Inductee (2019)


Original Biography Author
Victor Salvo
Biography Edited By
Owen Keehnen
Biography Vetted, Edited, and Certified By
Keith Haring Foundation
Image Rights Usage Granted By
Keith Haring Foundation
Image Source for Bronze Casting
Keith Haring Foundation
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell