Keith Haring was an artist and social activist whose work responded to the New York City street culture of the 1980s. Like his artistic idol Andy Warhol, Haring used bright colors, bold lines and simple subject matters. He used his artwork to bring awareness to issues of AIDS, racism, gay rights, South Africa, nuclear weapons, and literacy to name a few. Haring has left an impact on the pop art culture world, and his messages are still clear in his artwork.
NHS Change 4 Life campaign
I'm still asking the question "what is art?" Keith Haring is an artist. His work is art. The picture above, from the NHS Change4Life campaign, appears to use Haring style imagery (or, uses the visual vocabulary of) as a form of shorthand. Is it art? The same shorthand has been used by a local school (pictured below) to brighten up the environment. Is this art?
Chamberlayne School, UK
Have the school misappropriated Haring's work? That was certainly what I thought when I first saw it. Or is it (more legitimately) using the imagery associated with the healthy living Change 4 Life campaign, encouraging children and young people to take part in sporting and cultural activities?
The C4L publicity campaign used animated television advertising created by Aardman Animations Aardman were also responsible for Wallace & Grommit and Morph.
Morph (right) and Chas
Morph first appeared in 1977 on a UK children's tv show Take Hart with artist Tony Hart. The show featured short animations with the plasticine figure of Morph, created by Aardman.
Keith Haring, going underground
Keith Haring's figures date from 1980 when he started doing chalk drawings on black sugar paper in New York underground stations. Morph came first.
So, rather than C4L borrowing from Haring did Haring borrow from Morph and Aardman?
Here's a Morph and a Haring alongside. This is a page from the Talking Heads lyric book What the Songs Look Like (1987). Morph and this radiant child shurely must be related.
And look at the book alongside this pic from C4L. Suggesting that Change4Life was influenced by Haring.
Pure Evil, portrait of Keith Haring
Morph by Peter Lord and by Aardman
these guys have to be at least cousins to those below.