Keith Haring [hah-ring] (1958 – 1990) was an artist and social activist whose work responded to the New York City street culture of the 1980s. Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, at age 19 he moved to NYC, where he was inspired by graffiti art, and studied at the School of Visual Arts. Haring achieved his first public attention with chalk drawings in the subways. The exhibitions were filmed by the photographer Tseng Kwong Chi. Around this time, ‘The Radiant baby’ became his symbol. His bold lines, vivid colors, and active figures carry strong messages of life and unity. Starting in 1980, he organized exhibitions in Club 57, a performance venue.
He participated in the Times Square Exhibition and drew, for the first time, animals and human faces. In 1981 he sketched his first chalk drawings on black paper and painted plastic, metal and found objects. Haring died of AIDS-related complications. By expressing concepts of birth, death, love, sex and war, his imagery has become a widely recognized visual language of the 20th century. His work was featured in several of the Red Hot Organization’s efforts to raise money for AIDS and AIDS awareness. Specifically, its first two albums, ‘Red Hot + Blue’ and ‘Red Hot + Dance’ — the latter of which used Haring’s work on its cover.