Keith Haring from the Subway to “Crack is Wax”
Artists are sometime believed to be awfull people, especially when they get famous. For Keith Haring, this is absolutely not the case: Keith Haring was just, simply, a nice guy, maybe sometimes overwhelmed by his success but fully aware of its power to get things done or moved forward.
That’s how he achieved his first success, if not as an artist, at least as a social activist using art to get the point. And the point for Haring was at that time, was ‘Crack is Wack’, in support to his assistant Benny, who became addicted to crack. By painting this mural in Harlem River Drive (in Manhattan at 128th Street), Keith Haring, a part from being arrested, managed to catch the attention of a few hundred thousands of New Yorkers.
At the end of the story, the authorities found out that it was a nice way to fight drugs, and with apologizes for his arrest, offered him to paint it again with their assistance after a crack fan vandalized it.
Keith Haring started to get recognition in the subway of New York under the influence of Christo who introduced him to the possibilities of involving the public with his art. Birth, death, sexuality, war and at the end of is life, AIDS, were the major themes in Haring’s work. Like for Basquiat, his frienship with Andy Warhol did actually have a huge impact on his art, his career and his personal life.
Haring was a entire artist in this way that he was creating to bring things forward, to help to make things or people better. Even at the very end of his life, he was keeping working days and nights. Because he was feeling he had Something to finish. Messages to carry. Haring died from aids in 1990 with the idea that art does not belong to the artist but to the public.