Keith Haring: Street Art Boy is a biography not only of Haring and his art, but also of politics and culture in New York City in the late 70s and 80s. The film is imbued with the same joyful skittishness and musicality as Haring’s unique artwork. Director Ben Anthony strikes a perfect tone and pace with the combined use of archive footage, interviews, and audio of Haring’s own words. His development as an artist is explored with beautiful clarity, situating his work in an ideology that makes it historically fascinating regardless of personal aesthetic taste, and showcasing his undeniable artistic importance.

The film is powered by the same dance music that Haring obsessively played while he worked. It brings the light and love of New York City’s gay scene to its audience, and carries us through clubs, galleries, subway cars and dirty streets. Friends and family of Haring’s talk with affection and humour about the city, the era, the nightlife, and the man himself. The picture they paint is loyal rather than saccharine – some anecdotes point to Haring’s post-fame vanity, for instance, but they are recounted with warmth rather than vitriol.

His death at age 31, like all deaths of AIDS in the USA in the 80s and 90s, was political; a direct result of institutional homophobia and the reluctance of the US government to fund treatment research. The film explores Haring’s personal relationship with his illness and highlights his activism and conviction that art should be for everyone. Anthony maintains a background focus on the politics of 80s America, placing Haring and his art into a well-defined contextual setting.

While we face our own global crises, Keith Haring: Street Art Boy illuminates a life led with passion and ambition against – and despite – a backdrop of political uncertainty.



CAST: Keith Haring

DIRECTOR: Ben Anthony

WRITER: Ben Anthony

SYNOPSIS: This is the definitive story of artist and activist Keith Haring in his own words, exploring his life, work and death of AIDS at the age of 31.