Keith Haring and Jean Michel Basquiat"Art is life and life is art." KH"I don't think about art when I'm working. I try to think about life." JMBKeith Haring was born on May 4, 1958 in Reading, PennsylvaniaUpon graduation from high school in 1976, Haring enrolled in the Ivy School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh, a commercial arts school. He soon realized that he had little interest in becoming a commercial graphic artist and, after two semesters, dropped out.Later that same year, Haring moved to New York City and enrolled in the School of Visual Arts (SVA).Haring found a thriving alternative art community that was developing outside the gallery and museum system, in the downtown streets, the subways and spaces in clubs and former dance halls. Here he became friends with fellow artists Kenny Scharf and Jean-Michel Basquiat.Between 1980 and 1989, Haring achieved international recognition and participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions. Throughout his career, Haring devoted much of his time to public works, which often carried social messages. He produced more than 50 public artworks between 1982 and 1989, in dozens of cities around the world, many of which were created for charities, hospitals, children’s day care centers and orphanages.Haring was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988. In 1989, he established the Keith Haring Foundation, its mandate being to provide funding and imagery to AIDS organizations and children’s programs, and to expand the audience for Haring’s work through exhibitions, publications and the licensing of his images. Haring enlisted his imagery during the last years of his life to speak about his own illness and generate activism and awareness about AIDS.Keith Haring died of AIDS related complications at the age of 31 on February 16, 1990. A memorial service was held on May 4, 1990 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, with over 1,000 people in attendance.BasquiatJean-Michel Basquiat was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1960. His mother was of Puerto Rican heritage, and his father a Haitian immigrant, the combination of which eventually led to the young Jean-Michel's fluency in French, Spanish, and English.With his mothers help, by the age of six, Jean-Michel found himself already enrolled as a Junior Member of the Brooklyn Museum.Although he attended school sporadically in New York and Puerto Rico, he finally dropped out of Edward R. Murrow High School, in Brooklyn, in September 1978, at the age of 17.Basquiat's art was fundamentally rooted in the 1970s, New York City-based graffiti movement. This is around the time Basquiat and Haring met.
1982 was a banner year for Basquiat, as he opened six solo shows in cities worldwide and became the youngest artist ever to be included in Documenta, the international contemporary art extravaganza held every five years in Kassel, Germany. During this time, Basquiat created some 200 art works and developed a signature motif: a heroic, crowned black oracle figure.