During a brief but intense career that spanned the 1980s, Keith Haring’s work was featured in over 100 solo and group exhibitions. By expressing universal concepts of birth, death, love, sex and war, using a primacy of line and directness of message, Haring was able to attract a wide audience and assure the accessibility and staying power of his imagery, which has become a universally-recognised visual language of the 20th century.
As a student in New York, Keith Haring began to create drawings in white chalk upon the black paper panels covering unused advertising hoardings 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.