Keith Haring at Tate Liverpool

A review of my recent visit to the Keith Haring exhibition at Tate Liverpool.

Keith Haring at Tate Liverpool

Keith Haring Exhibition Tate Liverpool

6c71410c1cc63337bea2b5413f9c1f31a073059d.jpgOn 20th October 2019 I visited the Tate gallery in Liverpool to see the Keith Haring Exhibition. Both my parents were big fans of Keith Haring and had seen his work and exhibitions and visited the “Pop Shop” whilst living in New York.

The opening gallery exhibited lots of photos and paintings that Haring had drawn or created in the underground subways of New York. There was also a video of Keith Haring creating a piece of subway art. Haring was one of the first graffiti artists. 


I liked these drawings and wondered how I would have felt if I’d been travelling on the subway and I saw one of his creations. I think his work would’ve added excitement to an otherwise dull journey.

To Haring, drawing was a type of performing. What I liked most about his technique - rather then how most people I’ve seen draw - he would create his drawing as lots of individual lines that he then joined together at the end as if he had a planned method of how to draw it, rather than one fluid line.

add79354083f9bb59b6be0d4cc8df2c9bf7cdf17.jpgMy favourite Keith Haring drawing was the ‘Barking Dog’.  As a child, Keith Haring and his dad would draw cartoons together and Keith especially liked drawing dogs (as I do!)  In the early 1980’s when Haring started his New York graffiti the barking dog and the baby started to develop as his ‘tag’.

74841bb8f37d67c78a1de975c161bbcedff9b194.jpgAnother highlight of the exhibition was how incredibly full and busy each painting looked.  Much of his work is packed with the finest details and in most of his paintings there was little space. This busy style and his recognisable tags are reflected in the massive impact Haring had in the 1980s – particularly in New York and other urban centres - he was everywhere you looked. He was on posters, the Subway, t-shirts, TV, walls, nightclubs, galleries. He was everywhere.


Another set of paintings I enjoyed were the Mickey Mouse paintings. They all depicted Mickey Mouse through different ways.  This shows how many varying ideas and styles of painting Haring had, although he clearly had favourite cartoon characters, that he repeatedly used. For example: the baby, the barking dog and the flying saucer.

6801d5d483efe1ad5e754a7dbb35b610413c92e9.jpgUntitled.pngI also enjoyed seeing the various posters Haring created, especially those advertising his NYC Pop Shop. Haring also created a lot of posters about standing up to Aids and I am sure these would have encouraged lots of people at a time when there was huge anxiety and uncertainty concerning the disease. Haring was sadly diagnosed HIV positive in 1988 - the very same year he made the poster: Ignorance= Fear  Silence=Death with the recognisable pink triangle. 


Another of my favourite drawings was the three-eyed face. Haring created this by accident after drawing a face with too much space between the eyes, so he added a third eye. The audience thought of it as a spiritual reference so Haring decided to adopt it as this. 

Overall, I loved the exhibition and as a young artist myself I found it inspiring. It showed the amazingly varied talent Haring had and despite him sadly dying at the young age of 31, the huge impact he had on modern art then and still today. 

Header Image Credit: Tate Liverpool

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Amy Smith

Amy Smith

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  • Caroline Duncan

    On 17 March 2020, 19:58 Caroline Duncan commented:

    Amy, what a great article. I wasn't familiar with Keith Haring but I'm now really intrigued to find out more. Thanks for introducing me this vibrant work!

  • John Harrison

    On 18 March 2020, 12:39 John Harrison commented:

    I agree with Caroline, this has left me wanting to find out more. He made quite an impact in so short a space of time. So sad he died so young. I love the 3 eyed face. So good to have something to say and plan how to say it but sometimes I think the most powerful images just bubble up from who knows where. Maybe it's an accident, maybe not?

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