Baiocco's Reviews > Keith Haring: The Authorized Biography

Keith Haring by John Gruen
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Jan 01, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: biography, art-books
Recommended for: budding artists, teenagers, Madonna Fans

I never really loved Keith Haring's artwork because it seemed too simple, but my interest in Public Art and Mishchief Making made this oral history a worthy read--and it changed my opinion of Haring, whose work is actually more complex than just babies and stick figures. He definitely creates a child-like world with his colors and thick line, but also with his ideas, his perpetuality (is that a word? you get it, right) and his playfulness. Boy, that sounds gay. From Keith's own submissions and the testaments of other people, he seemed to be fueled and liberated by his own sexuality, which in this book worked at the same level as his quest for fame. Sex and fame are linked, and maybe two ends produced by the same creative drive. Haring's relationships with both friends and lovers suffered, but his creativity, fame and sexual appetite never simmered. I heard from a psychologist that a child will naturally play and do his or her own thing until it is made to feel shame or rejection--then he or she will play dead, metaphorically and end up on a couch in his or her parents' house smoking weed and playing Xbox instead of getting a job, falling in love, or making something out of his or her own life. Keith died of AIDs during the height of his career and never had to settle into that lame/shamed phase that artists go through when their child-like innocence gets stunted, rejected or just plain popped. Usually happens around 26 years old, hence drug overdoses of dangerous drugs occuring at the magic year of 27. Just a theory.

Anyway, the respectable thing about Haring is that he seemed to be on a wave, a journey and really never looked back. Even in this oral history when he remembers the old days or his boyfriends, he doesn't do it in a sentimental or shameful way, even though I'm sure he was a totally selfish prick/famehound. But such is the way of the pop artist (Dylan/Kanye) and if you can't keep your wits and individuality, well...you'll get used. And Haring got used for his money, and used others for his narcissim and thats the paradigm. The point was, I think, that only death stopped Haring's creativity. not shame. So props to that, fidelity be damned.
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message 1: by Kirsta (last edited Jan 02, 2008 10:22AM) (new)

Kirsta To borrow from your phrasing- props to that! Sounds like a Rolling Stone book review to me...


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