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Keith Haring - Emphasis, Movement, Contrast


Our first project this year we focused on the American Artist, Keith Haring.  Keith Haring was born on May 4, 1958 in Reading, Pennsylvania, and was raised in nearby Kutztown, Pennsylvania. He developed a love for drawing at a very early age, learning basic cartooning skills from his father and from the popular culture around him, such as Dr. Seuss and Walt Disney. He began to create drawings in white chalk upon these blank paper panels throughout the subway system. Between 1980 and 1985, Haring produced hundreds of these public drawings in rapid rhythmic lines, sometimes creating as many as forty “subway drawings” in one day. This seamless flow of images became familiar to New York commuters, who often would stop to engage the artist when they encountered him at work. The subway became, as Haring said, a “laboratory” for working out his ideas and experimenting with his simple lines.  Wanting to make his art more accessible, Haring opened the “Pop Shop” in New York City in 1986.  The store sold posters, t-shirts, and other items baring his artwork and designs,  He was also interested in many social causes.  In all, he did more than 50 public works and held numerous workshops for children.


As a class we analyzed Haring’s work and discussed his use of line and gesture within his work.  We also noticed that many of his pieces have a strong contrast of open and cluttered space.  The children practiced capturing movement with figures by adding in joints to their arms and legs.  Then we practiced on how to create spaces that are filled with design and how that can help contrast the empty spaces.  Then as a class the children were to design a composition that tried to capture the idea of gesture/movement within the figure.  Then they were asked to incorporate line to enhance the gesture.  Many students created their own spin on their artwork adding in different designs or color to emphasis certain parts of their piece.   As you can see their design concepts run the gamut of simple to highly complex.

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