Keith Haring’s Animals, Humans and Others

Like many ten-year-old boys, Keith Haring loved to draw cartoons. Unlike other ten-year-old boys, Haring wrote in his journal, “When I grow up I would like to be an artist in France.”

The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing

Haring’s mother said that when he was just a year old, he would sit on his father’s lap and draw. Haring’s father was an engineer who drew cartoons as a hobby.

The influence of his father led him to copy the works of great cartoonists like Charles Shulz and Friz Freleng. Throughout his life Haring continued to draw, honing his art until he created a style of his own, with simple yet bold outlines and short, radiant lines that he used for emphasis in his work.

In February, Penguin Random House published a children’s book by Haring’s sister, Kay Haring, called Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing.

Keith Haring’s Animals

As a young art student, Haring was influenced by the works of Belgian artist, Pierre Alechinsky. Alechinsky used images of animals and humans, intertwined in his designs.

When he moved to New York in 1978, with a scholarship to the School of Visual Arts, Haring saw what he needed to do to perfect his style. “Graffiti were the most beautiful things I ever saw,” he said. “The kids who were doing it were very young and from the streets, but they had this incredible mastery of drawing which totally blew me away. I mean, just the technique of drawing with spray paint is amazing, because it’s incredibly difficult to do. And the fluidity of line, and the scale, and always the hard-edged black line that tied the drawings together. It was the line I had been obsessed with since childhood.”

Between 1980 and 1985, Haring did as many as forty drawings a day in the subways of New York. Like other graffiti artists, Haring needed a tag. He used a simplified animal drawing, which, through many repetitions, became the iconic dog, that is instantly recognizable.

Humans and Others

Haring’s dog eventually morphed into a person crawling on all fours and, finally, into a baby. The image of The Baby became a useful symbol for Haring to use in what became the icon that Haring used in his political and personal work, a symbol that became universally relatable.

The human forms in his works were deceptively simple and through his use of line and form, Haring was able to twist them, turn them on their heads and combine them in and around other human, animal and mechanical forms.

Keith Haring’s Animals, Humans and Others Come Full Circle

In 1985, at the age of 27, Haring was honored with a show at the Bordeaux Contemporary Art Museum in France. Along with his work, Haring was asked to do a mural on the walls of the museum, realizing his childhood dream of becoming an artist in France.

Keith Haring at VFA

Please contact us for more information about Barking Dog and the other fine works by Keith Haring, available in our gallery.

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keith haring art for sale

Keith Haring’s Signs and Symbols

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Keith Haring’s work is being shown this month at an exhibit at the Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg, Germany and at a Sotheby’s exhibit in Hong Kong. The market for Haring’s work, especially among young Asian collectors, has always been good, and just keeps growing. The Haring artwork, for sale at Vertu, reflects the playfulness and intricacy of all Haring’s work.

While studying at the School of Visual Arts in New York, Haring took classes in semiotics, the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation. As Haring’s work, and Haring himself, matured, along with the influence of the New York art scene, Haring’s work became more intricate and more political.

Babies represent the possibility of the future, the understanding of perfection, how perfect we could be. There is nothing negative about a baby, ever … The reason that the “baby” has become my logo or signature is that it is the purest and most positive experience of human existence.”

In 1982, Haring created the Poster for Nuclear Disarmament, for sale at Vertu, which features his signature Radiant Baby in a mushroom cloud. “Babies represent the possibility of the future,” Haring said, “the understanding of perfection, how perfect we could be. There is nothing negative about a baby, ever … The reason that the “baby” has become my logo or signature is that it is the purest and most positive experience of human existence.”

Along with his political and charitable activities, Haring wanted to make art accessible to a wide public. In 1998, two years before his death, Haring established a foundation to continue his philanthropic work. “No matter how long you work,” Haring said, “it’s always going to end sometime. And there’s always going to be things left undone. And it wouldn’t matter if you lived until you were seventy-five. There would still be new ideas. There would still be things that you wished you would have accomplished. You could work for several lifetimes….Part of the reason that I’m not having trouble facing the reality of death is that it’s not a limitation, in a way. It could have happened any time, and it is going to happen sometime. If you live your life according to that, death is irrelevant. Everything I’m doing right now is exactly what I want to do.”

The Keith Haring Foundation continues Haring’s legacy by protecting his work and supporting educational opportunities to underprivileged chilled and organizations that promote HIV/AIDS education.

Haring’s estate worked with Villeroy & Boch, a German company that has been making ceramics for nearly three hundred years, to create ceramics that reflect Haring’s distinctive work.

A Piece of Art, a 22-piece ceramic serving set, was created in limited edition in 1991. The set is for sale at Vertu, and comes with its original box.

Spirit of Art No. 2 was also created by Villeroy & Boch, in limited edition, and is available at Vertu. Please contact us if you are interested in the works of Keith Haring or the artwork of the many other fine artists whose work is displayed in our gallery.

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