Coming to PBS’s American Masters tonight, Friday, December 4:
KEITH HARING: STREET ART BOY
NewFest, Side by Side
A portrait of the influential pop artist, who came to fame through his distinctive subway art in 1980s NYC.
Keith Haring outgrew his small Pennsylvania hometown to travel to NYC for art school in the 1970s. Seeking an outlet for his art, and wishing to make it accessible to as wide an audience as possible, he began to make chalk drawings on unused advertising spaces in the subway, creating a singular vocabulary of images of babies and dogs which would become iconic. Embraced by the downtown art scene, Haring emerged as a popular figure, gaining an international audience, and finding creative ways to promote his work, including opening his Pop Shop. At the same time, he was an activist, using art to create awareness of gay rights issues and the AIDS epidemic that would claim his life at the age of 31. While filmmaker Ben Anthony is somewhat limited by his project’s truncated run time, his use of Haring’s own recordings is particularly effective and affecting.