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Keith Haring (American, 1958–1990) is known worldwide through his graffiti-inspired drawings, paintings, sculptures, murals, and even merchandise. While his visual iconography has become part of the popular culture, his profound commitment to social justice has been less recognized. Keith Haring: The Political Line offers fresh examinations of Haring’s work through a political lens, lending deeper insights into one of the most prodigious artists of the late 20th century.
Haring began his career in the early 1980s by making collages and cartoonlike drawings, many of which he posted in public spaces. His vivid vocabulary of handdrawn symbols, such as zapping spaceships and barking dogs, raised provocative contemporary issues and spoke to both his generation and those that followed. In his work, Haring unapologetically denounced racism, capitalism, homophobia, dictatorship, atomic war, environmental degradation, and the excesses of technology and mass media. He also cared greatly about children’s well being, the fight against drug addiction, and bringing an end to the AIDS epidemic.
Keith Haring: The Political Line, published on the occasion of a major exhibition at the de Young in San Francisco and produced in collaboration with the Keith Haring Foundation, explores the artist’s engagement with politics, the urban landscape, the art world, and pop culture. Featuring reproductions of more than 200 works of art, an opening photo gallery by Haring’s friend and photographer Tseng Kwong Chi, four essays expanding upon the political aspects of Haring’s art, and conversations with those close to the artist, this catalogue provides intimate and broad views into Keith Haring’s life, work, and political convictions.