Although I saw an exhibition of Keith Haring’s art not long after his death from AIDS in 1990 and was impressed by the immediacy, accessibility and simplicity of his work, I freely admit that I hadn’t thought about Haring or his work in ages, until I was asked recently to take a look at Elisabeth Aubert’s short documentary Drawing the Line: A Portrait of Keith Haring (1990). Though only a dim memory, he was one of the best things about one of my least favorite decades, the 1980s. Seeing the film I was surprised to find that Haring’s playful—yet socially conscious—imagery seemed as fresh as ever. His immediately recognizable style and the kinetic energy of his work still shine. For anyone unfamiliar with Haring and his graffiti-based art (or if, like me, you simply need a reminder), Drawing the Line is a terrific little primer (it’s only 30 minutes). The film follows his career and the impetus behind it, tracing his life and work from his beginnings as a nameless chalk artist in the New York City subways to his status as a media celebrity. An admirably straightforward look at a unique talent.
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