Keith Haring Murals: The New York City Art Guide
There is no question that NYC in the 1980s was teeming with art. There was Andy Warhol’s factory, the rise of Jean Michel Basquiat, and of course the street art turn superstar Keith Haring. Now in 2022, many of his murals and statues are still visible to see by the public in and around New York. Thanks to the Keith Haring Foundation, we have created a comprehensive guide of the various places in the big apple where you can see these legendary artists’ works.
Keith Haring Biography
Keith Haring (1958 – 1990) was raised in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, and spent his early childhood learning to draw from his father, who was an amateur cartoonist. Around the age of sixteen, Haring had already decided to become an artist, so when he graduated high school in 1976, he enrolled in the Ivy School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh but soon realized that he did not wish to pursue a career as an illustrator and dropped out after two semesters.
Soon thereafter, Haring moved to New York City and enrolled in the School of Visual Arts in 1978, where he became close with classmates Samantha McEwen and Kenny Scharf, who would go on to become important artists in their own right.
Though by 1980, Haring’s artistic practice had become diverse in media and approach, he became particularly well known for the white chalk drawings which he executed over black poster paper all over the NYC subway system. Haring’s art is included as part of the permanent collection in well-respected institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among many others.
Keith Haring New York City Map
Use this map feature to easily navigate to these locations via your smartphone! Read more about these historical Haring art sites below.
Crack is Wack Mural
Starting up in Harlem is the double-sided mural titled Crack is Wack. This mural (1986) on a handball court at 128th Street and 2nd Avenue was inspired by the crack epidemic and its effect on New York City. It was created as a warning and was initially executed independently, without city permission. The mural was immediately put under the protection and jurisdiction of the City Department of Parks.
Life of Christ
Working your way down to 112th st and Amsterdam avenue is the Cathedral church of St. John the Divine. Inside is one of 9 casted alter pieces titled “The Life of Christ” by Haring. A bronze and white-gold triptych altarpiece are among the last works of noted New York City artist, completed just weeks before his death from AIDS. True to Haring’s inimitable and exuberant style, the altarpiece is crowded with angels and human figures, whose outstretched limbs lead the eye to the central figure of Christ. The altarpiece was a gift from the Estate of Keith Haring.
The LGBT Community Center Bathroom Mural
This mural can be found in the bathroom of the Center at 208 W. 13th street. With the invitation from curator Rick Barnett, fifty artists painted the interior surfaces of the LGBT Community Center in Greenwich Village in 1989, in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.
Keith Haring was one of those artists, and he was given free rein over what was then the men’s restroom on the second floor. The result was one of Haring’s most risqué murals, and though Haring rarely titled his work, he called this mural Once Upon a Time as a celebration of the pre-AIDS crises way of life. The mural remains on view at the center.
Carmine Street Swimming Pool Mural
This West Village swimming hole has quite the backdrop: a 170-foot long Keith Haring mural on a wall that connects the pool area to the James J. Walker Park handball court. The mural, which depicts mermaids, dolphins, and other aquatic creatures, was painted in 1987. It was restored by the Keith Haring Foundation in 1995. Take a dip this summer and check out this blue and yellow mural.
Woodhull Medical Center Mural
Over the course of one week in 1986, Haring camped out in the lobby of Woodhull Medical Center, creating a massive, 700-foot-long mural, and signing autographs and making drawings for passers-by during his breaks. The altruistic artist gave the mural to the medical center as a gift, thanking them for the hospital’s dedication to pediatric AIDS research and treatment. Today, you can take the M train to Flushing Avenue in the Bed Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn, walk a few steps into the hospital’s lobby on the corner, and see the mural that continues to brighten the days of thousands of patients and their families.