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Keith Haring in Europe

American artist and prominent social activist Keith Haring

Europeana Foundation

'I'd like to pretend that I've never seen anything, never read anything, never heard anything... and then make something...' - Keith Haring

Renowned American artist and prominent social activist Keith Haring was born on May 4 1958.

As the son of an amateur cartoonist, from an early age, Keith Haring was interested in visual art.

He moved to New York City at the age of 19 and first drew public attention with chalk drawings in the subways of the city.

Artworks with bold lines, vivid colours and active figures soon became his signature style.

Through the 1980s, Haring's artistic career grew with many projects around the world, including Europe.

His first international art show came in 1982, featuring in documenta, an exhibition for contemporary art taking place every five years in Kassel, Germany.

In spring 1986, Keith Haring's first solo museum exhibition took place at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

Haring designed and painted murals for museums in, amongst others, Bordeaux, Amsterdam and Berlin. He created a mural for the Necker Children's Hospital in Paris, as well as many others in public spaces across Europe.

Haring was gay, with his work often reflecting socio-political themes.

After being diagnosed with AIDS in 1988, he established the Keith Haring Foundation.

Its mandate was to provide funding and imagery to AIDS organisations by growing the audience and market for his artworks through exhibitions, publications and the licensing of his images.

Haring enlisted his imagery during the last years of his life, until his death on February 16 1990, to speak about his own illness and generate activism and awareness about AIDS.