Pop Life: Keith Haring at Tate Liverpool

The forthcoming Keith Haring retrospective at Tate Liverpool is the first major UK exhibition dedicated to the politically active artist whose graphic line dominated public spaces in New York and around the world in the 1980s

It is a fact that appreciation of artist Keith Haring, who succumbed to Aids at the age of 32 in 1990, has been sorely lacking in this country, particularly when compared with such fêted peers as Jenny Holzer and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

While their reputations have been sealed by serial public reappraisals, the forthcoming Tate Liverpool exhibition will be just the second occasion Haring’s work has been the subject of a solo show in Britain; the first was a relatively small affair at Robert ‘Groovy Bob’ Fraser’s Cork Street gallery just as Haring’s graffiti-inflected star was rising in 1983.

That year witnessed Haring’s fashion collaboration with Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, who featured his enigmatic glyphs of barking dogs, shamen and crawling -babies across their groundbreaking autumn/winter Witches collection. He also contributed to the sleeve of McLaren’s ethnographic/hip-hop hybrid Duck Rock LP, and went on to provide similar designs for the likes of David Bowie and Run DMC, as well as directing a promo video for Grace Jones (whose torso he memorably decorated).