Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Keith Haring grew up in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. In 1976 he hitchhiked cross-country, looking at various art programs. He returned to Pittsburgh one year later and eventually became involved with the Pittsburgh Arts and Crafts Center, where he had his first important show. He attended printmaking classes for two years at the University of Pittsburgh and, at the urging of his high school art teacher, he moved to New York City to study at the School of Visual Arts in 1978.
In 1980 Haring organized exhibitions and performed at Club 57. In the year that followed, he began making chalk drawings on the black paper that had been pasted over defunct advertisements in New York City’s subway stations. Haring’s first solo gallery exhibition took place at Tony Shafrazi Gallery in New York City. Soon after, he participated in “Documenta 7” in Kassel, Germany. In 1983 he participated in the Whitney Biennial and the Sao Paulo Biennial. He painted murals in Sydney, Melbourne, Rio de Janiero, Dobbs Ferry, Minneapolis and Manhattan.
In 1986 Haring stopped doing his subway drawings and opened The Pop Shop, a store that sold Haring products and multiples. In 1989 he engaged in a widespread campaign for AIDS awareness and established the Keith Haring Foundation, a charitable organization seeking to contribute to a wide range of social concerns. Haring died in 1990 from AIDS related complications.