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Keith Haring, Tate Liverpool
Keith Haring Drawing Series, January 1982© Joseph Szkodzinski 2018

See inside Liverpool’s upcoming Keith Haring exhibition

The eponymously titled show opens at Tate Liverpool on June 14

In Keith Haring’s world, art and activism go hand-in-hand. An iconic figure of New York’s 1980s scene, the painter once said: “Art is nothing if you don’t reach every segment of the people.” His unmistakable drawings are ladened with political messages, overtly portrayed through vibrant colours, faceless figures, and thick black text.

Next month, Tate Liverpool will open its doors to the artist’s child-like cartoons as it plays host to the first major UK exhibition of his work, and today we’re excited to announce our media partnership with the gallery. Bringing together more than 85 artworks, the eponymously titled show will present Haring’s large-scale drawings and paintings, most of which have never been seen in the UK.

Working alongside his friends and collaborators Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Haring dedicated his career to uniting high art and popular culture, once commenting, “I remember most clearly an afternoon of drawing… All kinds of people would stop and look at the huge drawing and many were eager to comment on their feelings toward it. This was the first time I realised how many people could enjoy art if they were given the chance.”

Devoted to creating public art, Haring is renowned for the immense murals he strewed across New York’s subway system in the early 80s, followed by works on the Berlin wall (1986), and a children’s hospital in Paris (1987), among many others. Through performance, video, and installation as well as drawing, Haring aimed to communicate with as wide an audience as possible, touching on crucial issues including racism, homophobia, drug addiction, Aids awareness, capitalism, and the environment.

Having being diagnosed with Aids in 1988 – ultimately losing his battle to the illness two years later – Haring used his platform as an openly gay artist and activist to educate people about the disease, attempting to alleviate stigma and generate activism around the crisis. Before his death, the artist founded The Keith Haring Foundation to provide support for organisations involved in education, research, and care related to HIV and Aids. Still committed to social change, the organisation has closely collaborated with the Tate Liverpool on the exhibition.

As well as displaying some of his Aids-related works, including Safe Sex! (1987), the Tate’s show will shed light on Haring’s performative work, from his live chalk drawings on the NYC subway, to photographer Tseng Kwong Chi’s documentation of the artist’s practice. Visitors can also expect more traditional works, including photography of his infamous Crack is Wack (1986) mural, and bold distinguishable cartoons.

To get you in the mood, explore the gallery above to go inside the Tate’s show, and look back at our round-up of the important lessons Keith Haring taught us about life and art.

Keith Haring will run from 14 June 2019 – 10 November 2019 at Tate Liverpool. You can book tickets here.