Keith Haring (Rizzoli)

Robert Atkins reviews Keith Haring (Rizzoli, 2008) in Art in America. He writes:

The standard Haring narrative begins with the pot-smoking, small-town boy from Kutztown, Pa., who learned cartooning from his father, left commercial art school in Pittsburgh after a month of classes and exposure to the work of CoBrA artist Pierre Alechinsky, then headed to New York in 1978. He made another brief stab at art school (this time at the School of Visual Arts), partied with artist-friends such as Scharf, Magnuson and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and curated their work at Club 57 and other downtown venues…

In 1980, he participated in the legendary New Wave extravaganza “The Times Square Show,” where he met graffiti “writers” and began his eye-popping embellishment of Manhattan subway stations with chalk drawings of crawling babies, dogs, flying saucers and TV sets.
The attention that Haring got for such works was instantaneous and never died down. In 1982 he was included in Documenta 7 in Kassel, Germany. By 1983 his meteoric three-year rise to pop-cultural stardom was ratified by an appearance in the Whitney Biennial and simultaneous solo shows at the Tony Shafrazi and Leo Castelli galleries. He continued to work in the subway until 1985, despite his growing frustration with collector-fans who removed—and profited by—the black paper ad panels on which he drew. His motivation, notes dealer Jeffrey Deitch in the introduction to Keith Haring, is explained in a well-known, manifestolike journal entry Haring wrote in 1978: “The public has a right to art / The public is being ignored by most contemporary artists / Art is for everybody.” If the rest is, as they say, history, it is surprising that, as with Deitch’s essay, the key narrator of Haring’s history has usually been Haring himself.