The creator of some of the most popular, enduring images of late 20th-century art, Keith Haring was also an iconic figure of the downtown New York scene in the '80s. Christina Clausen's documentary offers an affectionate, deeply personal glimpse into Haring's life, from his early years growing up in a small, conservative Pennsylvania town to his heyday as a world-renowned artist, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Madonna, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Andy Warhol. Haring's family and childhood friends offer anecdotes about the artist's early years, when he basked in '60s pop culture and developed a penchant for drawing, but it is the recollections of the '70's and '80s New York art scene that form that heart and soul of this documentary. Combining music of the era, photo stills, and audio excerpts from interviews conducted with Haring himself, Clausen brings the sights and sounds of these decades vividly to life. Yoko Ono, Junior Vasquez, David LaChappelle, and gallery owner Tony Shafrazi are among those who offer insight into the significance of Haring's work as well as their personal memories of their friendship with him. The film also examines Haring's oft-repeated maxim that "art is for everyone," his then-controversial decision to open Pop Shop (a store in SoHo selling merchandise with Haring's images on it), and his openness about his AIDS diagnosis at time when few were willing to discuss the disease publicly. The Universe of Keith Haring does not, however, dwell on Haring's untimely death at the age of 31-rather, it celebrates the spirit of his life and his art, which continue to have a lasting influence.
Co-hosted with NewFest: The New York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Film Festival.