Preview | Keith Haring: Street Art Boy - Keith Haring documentary and trailer

Streaming starting December 4th at pbs.org/americanmasters and the PBS Video app

International art sensation Keith Haring blazed a trail through the legendary art scene of 1980s New York and revolutionized the worlds of pop culture and fine art. This fascinating and compelling film – told using previously unheard interviews that form the narrative of the documentary – is the definitive story of the artist in his own words. The film also includes exclusive, unprecedented access to the Haring Foundation’s archives, capturing the wild, creative energy behind some of the most recognizable art of the past fifty years. Following Keith Haring’s diagnosis with AIDS in 1989, he asked writer and art critic John Gruen to write his biography. For five days in the summer of 1989, Keith gave Gruen in intimate and candid detail the story of his life and these interviews are included in the film. Haring’s closest friends, family and collaborators – from the sleepy Pennsylvania of his youth to the mythic clubs of gay New York – share their revelatory encounters, touching poignantly on the AIDS crisis, which made a tragic icon of this life-affirming artist.

Transcript Print

(siren blaring) (car horn honking) - He kinda took New York by storm and he was in all the magazines before he was 25.

Worldwide.

(drums beating) - My philosophy was always that art really could communicate to larger numbers of people.

Instead of the elitist group of people that could afford it and 'understand it.'

- Ninety percent or more of the people using the subways would never go to a museum on art.

- That was around the time when Keith kinda went, 'Bing!'

I'm gonna do this.

- The Crawling Baby, The Dog, Flying Pyramids, Dancing Man.

Turning them into his, like, own vocabulary.

- I was realizing the potential of images and how much power they had to speak almost as a language.

- Keith had an inherent need to have a dialogue with people.

- For me, the art market has very little to do with what art is supposed to be.

- I was formally introduced to this painting here yesterday when a brother painted it.

We love it, because y'all write what up.

- The traditional art world didn't get that he felt that art should be as accessible as possible.

(camera click) - It's sort of a romantic idea of being an artist of the people.

I just found a gateway to do it that was very direct.

(upbeat music) - He was so prolific.

I would come back the next day, and there would be, like, four new paintings and twenty drawings.

Okay.

- I think it's more important to keep coming up with new images and things that were never made before.

- From painting vacant end spaces in subways, to being flown 'round the world is quite a leap.

- I would say, 'Keith have some of this carrot juice instead of doing a line of coke.'

- Live as fully and as completely as you can.

And deal with the future as it comes to you.

- He was celebrating life up to the very end.

(upbeat music) (background noise)