Longtime friend of WOW Simon Doonan has a new book coming out next month about Keith Haring.
Haring died at just 31 in 1990 of complications from AIDS. Doonan recently spoke to Page Six about his friends death, noting that he’s one of the few survivors in his social circle from the time.
“The ’80s was this explosive creative time where young people were changing the country, but the backdrop was the worst misery of my entire life,” he told Page Six. “This disease where people felt a stigma where they shouldn’t have. It was ghastly for 10 straight years. I’m one of the few people in my group that didn’t die. I got to watch it all happen and survived it.”
Doonan continued that people have said, “scar tissue makes you stronger, but I think it f—ks you up and you never really get over it. With something like that you don’t put it a doily on it and get over it. You keep the memory alive of people like Keith Haring. He continued to be unstoppable and creative and resilient.”
Said Doonan of Haring’s street art:
“He wanted to get his art in everybody’s lives… I relate to that… you are communicating to everybody. The general public gets to see your work. Usually artists want to be esoteric and obscure and hard to understand, but [Haring] wanted his symbols to be communicative to people, and I think that’s why he still has a resonance.”
Keith Haring was a revolutionary artist, who transformed the art world during his short but impactful life. Brought to life by Simon Doonan, Creative Director for Barneys New York, this new pocket-sized biography tells his inspirational story.
Revolutionary and renegade, Keith Haring was an artist for the people, creating an instantly recognisable repertoire of symbols – barking dogs, space-ships, crawling babies, clambering faceless people – which became synonymous with the volatile culture of 1980s. Like a careening, preening pinball, Keith Haring playfully slammed into all aspects of this decade – hip-hop, new-wave, graffiti, funk, art, style, gay culture – and brought them together.
Haring’s fanatical drive propelled him into the orbit of the most interesting people of his time: Jean Michel Basquiat envied him; Warhol, William Boroughs and Grace Jones collaborated with him. Madonna and he shared the same tastes in men. Famous at 25, dead from AIDS at 31, Keith Haring is remembered as a Pied Piper, an unpretentious communicator who appeared happiest when mentoring a gang of kids, arming them with brushes and attacking the nearest wall.
A series of brief biographies of the great artists, Lives of the Artists takes as its inspiration Giorgio Vasari’s five-hundred-year-old masterwork, updating it with modern takes on the lives of key artists past and present. Focusing on the life of the artist rather than examining their work, each book also includes key images illustrating the artist’s life. Hardbound, but pocket-sized, the books each sport a specially-commissioned portrait of their subject on the half-jacket.
Our February 23, pre-order your copy here.