Someone stole my beloved Keith Haring Swatch watch. I think I know who it was, but when queried, they denied any possibility that they were responsible for it having gone missing. I saw the same one on EBay for $1600. The Husband: “you couldn’t get $1600 for that watch. You loved that Swatch into a state of being 'very used'. I wish I had $1600, I would buy you a new one.”
For most of the 1980s, I had prints of Keith Haring drawings & paintings, torn from Interview Magazines & displayed on the fridge. Unbelievable, there is a Haring, held by a Warhol magnet on my 2010 stainless steel refrigerator this morning. Some things just don’t change. The display face on my I-phone phone is a Keith Haring barking dog.
Keith Allen Haring was born May 4, 1958, in Reading, Pennsylvania, & grew up in Kutztown, a small Pennsylvania Dutch farm community. As a child, he fervently drew cartoons & gradually progressing to more complex compositions. He saw a display of Andy Warhol's work when he was in his teens, & was impressed by that artist's flat lines, his use of pop icons & mundane objects, & Warhol’s concept of mass-produced art. Warhol's elevation of the commonplace into art would be the crux of Haring's art.
He moved to NYC in 1980, to be at the center of both the art world & the gay community. He began to create his own graffiti of ambiguous looking animals & a human figure on all 4s, in the city's subways. Haring was employed as an assistant to gallery owner Tony Shafrazi, who gave him his first major exhibition in 1982.
During the mid-1980s, Haring's work brought him wealth & celebrity. His fans included Yoko Ono, Dennis Hopper, & even Andy Warhol himself. Madonna, explains that his art had such a vast appeal because "there was a lot of innocence & a joy that was coupled with a brutal awareness of the world."
Haring was among the generation of gay men lost in the first wave of the AIDS epidemic. He was diagnosed in late 1988, but continued his art until the very end, when he could no longer hold a pencil or brush. Haring's bold lines & figures carry poignant messages of vitality & unity. His legacy made an impact on late 20th century art.
Keith Haring was 31 years old when he died in NYC in 1990. He would have been 54 years old today. I cried this morning thinking about writing this post: for Keith being gone too soon, too young, for my loss of innocence, for my missing Keith Haring Original Swatch.
The missing Swatch. If I left it under your bed in the late 1980s, may I please have it back?
Haring by Annie Leibovitz