Going into the 1980’s, keen observers in the New York City subway system might run across swaths of unused ad space embellished with ephemeral chalk drawings of a signature crawling baby, done by a young artist tapping into the era’s experimental street art scene.
By the end of the decade, Keith Haring’s work would become internationally recognizable as well as deeply personal and political as both the world and Haring himself grappled with the harrowing realities of the AIDS crisis. In his new biography, Radiant: The Life and Line of Keith Haring, author Brad Gooch aims to bring new light to Haring’s legacy in pop art, public works, and LGBTQ advocacy for a new generation.
Through input from over two hundred individuals and sources including the archives of the Haring estate, Gooch has compiled a rich and immersive journey through the life and works of Keith Haring. Informed by both documented and lived experience, this portal into 1980s New York is steeped with the themes of accessibility, excess, rebellion, and social activism that permeated Haring’s short but staggering career and continues to find.
“With his early belief that art could change the world for the better, and wishing to make it accessible and affordable for everyone, Haring, against all odds, succeeded at his democratizing mission. In our own era of engagement by so many artists with any available surface; with personal icons and licensing; with activism, collaborating, communication; and with the fostering of community, Keith Haring seems more than ever one of us.”
Brad Gooch is a New York Times bestselling poet, novelist, and biographer whose works span multiple genres including the arts, religion and spirituality, and LGBTQ experience. He is the recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities and Guggenheim fellowships. His books include Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor, which was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; City Poet: The Life and Times of Frank O’Hara; and the memoir Smash Cut, which chronicles Gooch’s youth in the incandescently creative climate of 1970’s-80’s New York City.
Presented by Town Hall Seattle.