Art AV Club: Keith Haring

In this Art AV Club I take a look at the legacy of Keith Haring. His iconographic work is a reminder for me to do good in the world.

I fell down a YouTube rabbit hole recently, like you do. I took an online class and one of the bonus materials was a video about Cy Twombly. After I watched it, I wondered if there were videos on other Abstract Expressionists. And just like all trips down the YouTube rabbit hole, I surfaced several hours later awed by the amazing content and looking for snacks.

Social media doesn’t allow for easy sharing of this kind of material. So I decided to make it a recurring feature on my blog. And just like that, Art AV Club was born! On Mondays, I’ll post videos of or about artists. I’ll share a bit about why what they do intrigues me. I hope you’ll go on this journey with me. Pop artist Keith Haring is my pick this week for Art AV Club.

Interview with the grandparents

This clip really cracks me up! It comes across as slightly out-of-touch grandparents interviewing a precocious grandchild about his new school project. Listening to Keith earnestly talk about his work and translating it into terms that non art world folks can understand is delightful.

King of Street Art

This 4 minute documentary is a great overview of his career choices, his involvement in the New York art scene of the 80s, and his activism.

Content Warning: drawings of nude males.


His work is accessible because it is so stylized. His themes are readily apparent with minimum inquiry. He created a visual lexicon that we recognize and respond to easily some 40 years later. It’s fun and whimsical and fully t-shirt ready.

I likely got exposed to Keith’s work because I was a huge Madonna fan back in the day. I knew he was an HIV/AIDS activist but I was a tween so it didn’t make a huge impact on me. Knowing now that he set up his foundation to continue his activism work for folks living with HIV/AIDS and to benefit children’s educational programs makes me admire him even more. He consistently worked to keep his art available for everyone to enjoy. The licensing of his work allows for that and the proceeds go into his foundation’s grant work.

In college I had to make buttons for a class project. I’ve saved the button all these years because it has his art on it.

Keith Haring button from my personal collection

I only vaguely remember a time in my life that Keith’s art wasn’t part of my visual landscape. So while I don’t make pop art, the ideals of art for everyone and using my art to benefit others are deeply embedded in my personal makeup. Make art. Do good. Share with others. That’s Keith Haring’s legacy for me.

Go exploring on your own

I hope you enjoyed this Art AV Club. Maybe it will lead you to further explore the works of Keith Haring. If you’d like to learn more about him, check out his foundation website. I particularly liked looking through the lesson plans that are available for all grade levels. I’ll be bringing another artist next week so check back on Monday. If there’s an artist you’d like my take on, drop me a note and I’ll put them on the list!