Curry with Keith

Chapter 2 of Cooking Art*

*Cooking art details the life and work of the greatest artists of the 20th century. It provides the reader with both biographical details and visual representations of the artist's style, wrapped in crucial culinary instructions for an amazing meal that is both tasty and a clever way to avoid copyright infringement.


*Ingredients: 300g chicken, 500g canned tomatoes, 1 onion, 1 lemon, 1 cup yoghurt, 250 ml cream, 3 tbs butter, chili, 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp garlic, salt, 1 1/2 tbs tandoori masala, 2 tsp cardamom, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 2 cloves, 1 tbs garam masala, 1 tbs honey.

Marinade: Combine chicken with lemon, salt, chili, yoghurt, ginger, garlic, tandoori. Leave for 1-12 hours.


Keith Haring is born on may 4th, 1958 in Reading, Pennsylvania. He grows up in Kutztown, a small, old-established ivory tower of a town, detached from the seething novelties of the progressive hubs.
His father Allen, an engineer, also is an amateur cartoonist. He draws for Keith, and introduces him to Disney and Dr. Seuss. Already at that early age, Keith falls in love with drawing.

In 1976, Haring graduates from high school. He is still in love with art but as so many others, his parents are scared of him living the live of a breadless artist and beg him to study commercial art. He enrols in the School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh. It takes him less than six months to realise that he wants everything but to become a commercial artist.

“The people i met who were doing it seemed really unhappy; they said that they were only doing it for a job while they did their own art on the side, but in reality that was never the case- their own art was lost. i quit the school.”

Seeing Pierre Alechinskys’s retrospective at the Carnegie Museum of Art displaying both a vaguely similar style to his own and the potential for its success, Haring experiences a boost in confidence and the affirmation to risk it all. He is inspired by the late work of Jean Dubuffet and Alechinsky but wants to transport the style of the latter into much bigger shapes and patterns of ink that are completely spontaneous and independent.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Running Fence, a veiled fence that stretches 40km across the hills of Sonoma and Marin in northern California, further underlines his belief that art should reach and be accessible to everyone, not just the small elite of the art world.

When an exhibition at the Pittsburgh Arts and Crafts Center is canceled last-minute, Haring gets the spot. At the age of only 19, he shows at the best place in Pittsburgh besides museums. But his world is already too small. Beginning his first relationships with men and feeling the limitedness of his environment, he decides to break out.
New York is the only option.


Sauce: Melt butter, add cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, onion, chili, tomatoes. Cook for 20min on medium-low heat.


1978, Haring moves to New York and enrols in the School od Visual Arts. He Finds a thriving art community that has developed as an alternative to galleries and museums and blooms in the streets, subways, clubs and former dance halls. The boy from Kutztown dives into the multicultural urban world of New York City and emerges in an entirely new environment that both inspires and shapes him. The east village gifts him the freedom to uninhibitedly explore a vibrant social world of likeminded creatives and his gay identity.


He befriends Kenny Scharf and Jean-Michel Basquiat and finds himself in the midst of musicians, performance artists, graffiti writers. He organises and participates in performances and exhibitions at the Club 57, experimenting with videos, installations and collages. But the fast, spontaneous art of graffiti writing most perfectly fits his awe and aim for channelling all his impulses into the bold expression of a line. He admires the creative and authentic street work of graffiti writers with their technical mastery and calligraphic style.


In 1980, he finds his entry to their world as he sees a blank black advertisement poster on a subway station.

“One day, riding the subway, I saw this empty black panel where an advertisement was supposed to go. I immediately realised that this was the perfect place to draw. I went back above ground to a card shop and bought a box of white chalk, went back down and did a drawing on it. It was perfect–soft black paper; chalk drew on it really easily.”

The blank posters, placeholders soon to be covered up by new advertisements, are everywhere in the city. And as Haring sets out to conquer them all for their finite time of availability, he develops the distinct style that will make him famous.
To Haring, the subway drawings are both drawing and performance. He draws in front of people, both those that despise his vandalism and those that stand in awe and watch him create. He thrives on the interactions and reactions and is fuelled and excited by the feedback, criticism, interest and resentment from such a broad variety of people that ride the subway – old and young, rich and poor, from all kinds of backgrounds and all kinds of minds.

Between 1980 and 1985, Haring creates thousands of public drawings, up to forty drawings a day. His style is shaped by speed, simplicity and rhythmic lines and soon becomes famous to New York commuters.

The subway serves as his laboratory, exploring and refining techniques and ideas and narrowing down his style to art that is perceived and understood in the blink of an eye but shaped into entirely different interpretations by each individual beholder.

The simplicity of the lines does not replace but enhance the depth and distinction of their meaning to the audience.


The Subway drawings are followed by a rising international recognition throughout the 80s. In 1981, he has his first Solo Exhibition in New York at the Westbeth Painter Space. In 1982, the Tony Shafrazi Gallery follows with his first gallery debut with tremendous response.

He creates drawings, painted tarpaulins, sculptures and on-site work. He transforms the entire space into a club-like environment. International exhibitions follow at the Documenta 7, the Sao Paulo Biennal, the Whitney Biennal. Haring designs for the Spectacolor Billboard on Times Square, Coca-Cola, Swatch, creates advertising campaigns for Absolut Vodka, paints Murals around the world.


His incredible success brings an infinite extent of money and opportunities but also new issues. By 1984, his subway drawings are stolen within hours of their creation and sold on the art market. A single painting he would create in just a few hours sells for tens of thousands of dollars.

But his rise to fame does not stop his artistic ecstasy, it only increases his reach.



“I could earn more money if I just painted a few things and jacked up the price. My shop is an extension of what I was doing in the subway stations, breaking down the barriers between high and low art."

The 1986 opening of the “Pop Shop”, a retail store in Soho that sells t-shirts, toys, posters, buttons and other merchandising bearing his images is both criticised and celebrated. The entire interior is painted by Haring as a black on white abstract mural. The low prices make his art accessible to almost everyone and are met with incomprehension, shock and anger by the art world.

“My work was starting to become more expensive and more popular within the art market. Those prices meant that only people who could afford big art prices could have access to the work.
The Pop Shop makes it accessible.”

Him circumventing the art critics and going straight to the public, making his work available to as wide of an audience as possible, is the exact opposite of how the art market works and demands to work. Haring creating a massive amount of artworks basically “for free” is the ultimate suicide for an artist's value. Asked for autographs, he doesn’t just sign, he draws, for every fan. While the art world condemns his move, his friends, fans and mentors, including Andy Warhol, praise him and give him the strength and confidence to persist.



Finish: Add chicken (with yoghurt) and cream, cook till chicken is done.
Serve with rice, naan and love.


“i suppose even just from the time of when i was a little kid i had this tremendous guilt about, you know, from learning of all the things that white people had done”

“i felt a much closer affinity to culture and people of color than i did to white culture."


In the mid-80s, Haring uses his work increasingly to highlight socio-political issues. He designs the Free South Africa poster in 1985 and paints the Berlin Wall in 1986. He creates more than 50 public artworks between 1982 and 1989 all over the world, for charities, hospitals, children’s day care centres and orphanages. He fights for AIDS awareness and the crack cocaine epidemic with his world famous CRACK IS WACK mural along New York’s FDR drive. For the 100th anniversary of the statue of liberty in 1986, he creates a mural with over 900 children, he gives workshops for children in schools and museums all over the world and provides imagery for literacy programs and a variety of other public service campaigns.

“Thats one reason why i really like working with children more than anything else, because they still really have that freedom and that imagination to just .. to just do it.”



“I like the idea of things lasting longer than you last and.. being somewhere where lots of people can see them for a long time”

While giving rise to an environment that enabled Haring to pursue his uninhibited creative identity, the 80s also give rise to AIDS. Haring watches his friends die of the disease and is deeply troubled by the experience. Knowing his own risk of being infected, he avoids the diagnosis for years, yet he is very aware of his inevitable fate.


"I'm scared of having to watch more people die in front of me ... I refuse to die like that.
If the time comes, I think suicide is much more dignified and much easier on friends and loved ones. Nobody deserves to watch this kind of slow death."

In 1987, Haring becomes aware of the symptoms. In 1988 he is diagnosed. Knowing his days are numbered, he works even harder, to “do as much as possible as quickly as possible” before the end. His themes shift towards the male sexuality, wit the symbol of the horned sperm often regarded as a symbol of the virus. While the public considers aids the “gay cancer” or a “divine punishment”, Haring addresses the discrimination and oppression of those that suffer. His work gives the affected a voice and the deadly disease a shape.
In 1989, he establishes the Keith Haring Foundation with the goal to provide funding and imagery to aids organisations and children’s programs and spread his work to a wider audience.

“i knew it was going to happen but somehow that doesn’t prepare you any more for that moment when you know that it’s really...”


“i went and sat by the river and just cried and cried and cried, but then it’s like, you can’t... you know, you have to go on. and you get yourself together and you realise that this is not the end right there and there is other things and you gotta continue and you gotta figure out how you’Re gonna deal with it and confront it and face it."


“No matter how long you work, it’s always going to end sometime. And there’s always going to be things left undone. And it wouldn’t matter if you lived until you were seventy-five. There would still be new ideas. There would still be things that you wished you would have accomplished. You could work for several lifetimes… Part of the reason that I’m not having trouble facing the reality of death is that it’s not a limitation, in a way. It could have happened any time, and it is going to happen sometime. If you live your life according to that, death is irrelevant. Everything I’m doing right now is exactly what I want to do.”


“you’re making these things that you know have a different kind of life. They don’t depend on breathing, so they’ll last longer than any of us will. Which is sort of an interesting idea, that it’s sort of extending your life to some degree.”

Harings work becomes his endeavour to prolong his life through his art. 1989 is filled with radiant paintings of birth and life. He accepts his death. He transforms the life that is taken from him into the immortality of his work.
On February 16, 1990, at the age of 31, he dies of AIDS-related complications.

„Art is for everybody.“
-Keith Haring