Have been starting in two new books today. One about Fassbinder, the German director, and the Journals of Keith Haring. Haring hit the big time during the ‘winter’ timeframe (1982-1988). At the end of the eighties he was as famous as a rock star. Thousands wore his T-shirts or send each other his postcards, millions knew his style. Why? The book states: “Haring tackled the issues of his times, the threat of thermonuclear annihilation, the obscenity of apartheid, and the horror of AIDS. But more than that: he also drew on the need of women and men for emotional response from others, for security of the long-term sort.”
His iconic simpleness was reflected in his baby-drawing: “The reason that the ‘baby’ has become my logo or signature is that it is the purest and most positive experience of human existence.” That will be recognizable for the masses..
There is a clear relation between the ‘Haring-hype’ in the eighties and pop-art, which reigned the art world during the previous winter timeframe (1961-1966). Art historic Jonathan Fineberg sums up his gift: “Haring created icons of mass culture to which everyone could relate.” His style was easily recognizable, simple but always emotional. There was a lot of interaction between figures in his art, they seem to give movement or energy to each other. And that warms peoples’ heart during the winter timeframe.
Haring did not want to work with canvasses. They scared him because of their value and ‘finality’. He prefered paper: “It is loose, natural, real, uninhibited, beyond definition. It is temporary and its permanence is unimportant."
The question is: how temporary will his art be? I don’t see a revival of his work in our current timeframe, again a ‘winter’ period. Shame he died so soon, would have been interesting to see how he would have developed his style.