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Keith Haring, a pioneer of street art, gets a Google Doodle

May 04, 2012|By Jamie Wetherbe
  • A screen shot of the Google Doodle featuring Keith Haring's works.
A screen shot of the Google Doodle featuring Keith Haring's works. ( )

The Google Doodle of the day is dedicated to street artist and activist Keith Haring in honor of what would have been his 54th birthday.

The search engine’s logo has morphed into Haring’s signature bold lines, vivid colors and active figures swallowing, wiggling and flying to make Google’s lettering.

The Pennsylvania-born artist learned to draw at an early age, inspired by his cartoonist father and images of Dr. Seuss and Walt Disney.

As a teenager, Haring moved to New York and enrolled in the School of Visual Arts, where he ran with musicians, and performance and graffiti artists -- including Kenny Scharf and Jean-Michel Basquiat -- of the burgeoning alternative art community that existed outside galleries on the city's streets, subways and clubs.

Taking a page from Robert Henri’s manifesto “The Art Spirit,” which focused on artists’ independence and Andy Warhol’s pop-y intersection of life and art, Haring vowed to devote his career to public art.

In the early '80s Haring discovered his medium drawing on the unused advertising panels along the New York subways. The artist later found fame in the city’s galleries, and in '86, opened a Pop Shop selling T-shirts, toys and posters adorned with his images.

Haring produced more than 50 public artworks around the world between 1982 and '89, including the renowned “Crack is Wack” landmark on New York’s FDR Drive, often with an eye for creating work dedicated to charities, hospitals and children’s organizations.

Haring was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988 and spent the next two years of his life and work generating funding and awareness for AIDS organizations. Haring died in 1990 at age 31. After his death, Haring’s friend Madonna donated ticket sales from the first New York date of her Blond Ambition tour to AIDS charities.

Haring is one of the more contemporary artists whose work has recently been displayed on Google’s homepage.

Spanish artist Juan Gris -- a lesser-known driving force behind the Cubist movement -- was honored with a Doodle featuring an abstract melding of guitars, violins and mandolins on the 125th anniversary of his birth.

Origami artist Akira Yoshizawa, who would have turned 101 in March, earned a Doodle dedicated to his elaborate paper-made sculptures.

And late last year, Google honored another artist and social activist, Diego Rivera, on what would have been his 125th birthday.


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