Keith Allen Haring (May 4, 1958 – February 16, 1990) was an American artist whose pop art and graffiti-like work grew out of the New York City street culture of the 1980s. Much of his work includes sexual allusions that turned into social activism. He achieved this by using sexual images to advocate for safe sex and AIDS awareness.
Haring’s work grew to popularity from his spontaneous drawings in New York City subways—chalk outlines of figures, dogs, and other stylized images on blank black advertising-space backgrounds. After public recognition he created larger scale works, such as colorful murals, many of them commissioned. His imagery has “become a widely recognized visual language”. His later work often addressed political and societal themes—especially homosexuality and AIDS—through his own iconography.
Haring died on February 16, 1990, of AIDS-related complications. In 2014 Haring was one of the inaugural honorees in the Rainbow Honor Walk, a walk of fame in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood noting LGBTQ people who have “made significant contributions in their fields.” In June 2019, Haring was one of the inaugural fifty American “pioneers, trailblazers, and heroes” inducted on the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor within the Stonewall National Monument (SNM) in New York City’s Stonewall Inn.