Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Universe of Keith Haring

by Drew Martin
I have always thought of Keith Haring's work as simply ubiquitous and repetitive commercial pop art but after watching The Universe of Keith Haring (2008) by Christina Clausen I understand his visual genius. He was perhaps the most spontaneous, consistent and prolific artists of all time. This thorough and admiring documentary shows Haring not only as a virtuosic painter but as a deep humanitarian. Yoko Ono perfectly sums it up when she says,

"Andy Warhol's work was creating something in a meaningful tradition but it was meaningless in a way and he liked the meaninglessness. And Keith was creating something that was looking like meaningless but actually it was meaningful."
Haring was greatly influenced by semiotics and his father's hobby with morse code. By his third year at SVA he was advised by a director of the school "Maybe you should try to be an artist instead of a student." To which he replied "Oh yeah, what a great idea!"