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Keith Haring (1958-1990) painted this fanciful mural in 1986. Comprised of Haring’s signature kinetic figures and abstract forms in bold outlines the mural cautions youth against using  Crack, a highly potent, addictive, and dangerous form of smokable cocaine whose use reached epidemic proportions in the mid- to late 1980s.

Keith Haring was born on May 4, 1958 in Reading, Pennsylvania,   In the early 1980s, Haring first attained notoriety by using the methods of graffiti to literally make his mark on the City.  Creating a style which would soon become renowned worldwide, Haring “tagged” in chalk outlines buoyant interlocking bodies on the black poster mounts of New York City subway stations.  Throughout his career, Haring collaborated with many artists, deejays and dancers that emerged in the 80s hip hop scene notably, Angel Ortiz, a.k.a LA II, Juan Rivera, a.k.a. Juanito Xtravaganza, Jean Michel Basquiat, and Kenny Scharf.

Keith Haring died of AIDS on February 16, 1990.  Not yet 32 years old, he left a legacy of art that was popular on a universal level and garnered widespread critical acclaim. His vocabulary of images – such as the radiant child and barking dog – soon became instantly recognizable.   A foundation in his memory was established, which continues to support the organizations he championed such as “Learning Through Art” and “Doing Art Together,” two programs which brought art to schools.  The Crack is Wack mural is a lasting reminder of Haring’s art, which first arose in public spaces and continues to instruct and inspire through its wit and vibrancy.

 

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