American artist and social activist, Keith Haring, is best known for his illustrative depictions of figures and symbols. “I don't think art is propaganda,” he once stated. “It should be something that liberates the soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further. It celebrates humanity instead of manipulating it.” Haring was inspired to draw from an early age by Walt Disney cartoons and his father who was an amateur cartoonist. After briefly studying commercial art in Pittsburgh, Haring came across a show of the works of Pierre Alechinksy and decided to pursue a career in fine art instead. He moved to New York in the late 1970s to attend the School of Visual Arts, and soon immersed himself in the city’s graffiti culture. By the mid-1980s, he had befriended fellow artists Andy Warhol, Kenny Scharf, and Jean-Michel Basquiat
, and collaborated with celebrities like the singer Grace Jones. Haring’s prodigious career was brief, and he died of AIDS-related complications on February 16, 1990 at the age of 31.