Mental Floss

Drawing Lives Through Magic: Keith Haring

Andréa Fernandes

Today's post comes at the request of two readers, zach and SpaceMonkeyX, who said his wife "would be giddy" if "Feel Art Again" featured Keith Haring (1958-1990). Haring is an artist who died much too early, so the possible full extent of his influence will never be known. Yet he made quite an impact on the world as it is.

1. Before he became famous for his public art, Keith Haring was experimenting with collages and unused advertising panels. In 1980, Haring pasted collages of fake New York Post headlines on lampposts and newsstands. That same year, he started creating white chalk drawings on the empty advertising panels, covered in matte black paper, in the NYC subway system. Some days, Haring would create as many as 40 subway drawings.

2. According to Haring, "My contribution to the world is my ability to draw. I will draw as much as I can for as many people as I can for as long as I can. Drawing is still basically the same as it has been since prehistoric times. It brings together man and the world. It lives through magic."

3. About a year ago, in December 2007, a 1979 Haring painting was discovered on a wall in the American Textile Building in TriBeCa. The painting can't be removed, but it would be worth from $800,000 to $1 million if it could be. Instead, it remains on the wall in the otherwise renovated building.

4. Haring's 1989 mural, "Tuttomondo" (shown above), contains 30 figures, with each figure representing a different aspect of peace in the world. The mural, which covers a 180 square meter wall, took a week for Haring to complete, significantly longer than the 1 or 2 days he usually spent on a mural. After Haring drew the black outline, students and craftsmen from Caparol Center (the suppliers of the acrylic paint used) helped fill in the colors.

A larger version of the photo of "Tuttomondo" is available on alt-os' Flickr page. Fans should check out the Haring Foundation; Haring Kids; the Haring documentary "Drawing the Line" (part 1); and SFOMA's 1998 Haring exhibition. Current Exhibition:Keith Haring (Budapest, Hungary: through November 16, 2008) "Feel Art Again" appears every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. You can e-mail us at with artist suggestions or details of current exhibitions.