Cover image for Keith Haring : the authorized biography
Keith Haring : the authorized biography
Gruen, John.
Personal Author:
First Fireside edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, 1992.

Physical Description:
x, 255 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
N6537.H348 G7 1991C Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
N6537.H348 G7 1991C Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Interweaving Haring's own words with the reflections of those who knew him, this book captures the remarkable life and spirit of one of the most celebrated artists of our time, who died at age 31 in 1990. Haring candidly discusses all aspects of his life, from his controversial approach to art to coming to terms with AIDS. Illustrated with full-color reproductions of the artist's strikingly original works.

Author Notes

John Gruen was born Jonas Grunberg in Enghien-les-Bains, France on September 12, 1926. The family moved to Berlin in 1929. The Grunbergs, who were Jewish, resettled in Milan in 1933 because of the rise to power of Adolf Hitler. In 1939, fleeing Benito Mussolini, he and his parents went to New York. He received bachelor's and master's degrees in art history from the University of Iowa.

He was a composer of art songs that were performed by Eleanor Steber and Patricia Neway. In 1950, New Songs, a recording of his work, became the first album released by Elektra Records. He became a critic for The New York Herald Tribune and New York magazine. He wrote about music, art, dance, and theater. His work also appeared in The New York Times, Dance Magazine, ARTnews, and Architectural Digest. He was a photographer whose work is in the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

He wrote more than ten books during his lifetime including The New Bohemia, The World's Great Ballets, and The Sixties: Young in the Hamptons. He wrote several authorized biographies including The Private World of Leonard Bernstein, Menotti, Keith Haring, and Erik Bruhn, Danseur Noble. His autobiography, Callas Kissed Me ¿ Lenny Too!: A Critic's Memoir, was published in 2008. He died on July 19, 2016 at the age of 89.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Few artists hit it big when they're young. Keith Haring did, although par for the course for American artists, he was far more critically acclaimed in Europe, Japan, Australia, Brazil--anywhere but in his chosen home, New York. Not that he wasn't popular there. His energetic drawings of radiant babies, animals, aliens, dancers, copulating couples (of both sexual persuasions), and such conceits as Andy Mouse, a composite of two of his artistic mentors--Andy Warhol and Mickey Mouse--drew upon the tech~niques and brio of a quintessentially popular art form, the increasingly colorful and accomplished graffiti that kid artists as young as 13 were scrawling and spray-painting on subway cars during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Dropping out of art school because he'd realized his own style, he broke through to citywide recognition by taking to the subways himself, decorating blank spaces among the underground hoardings. He befriended many even younger graffiti artists, and he aggressively marketed his work through such endeavors as the Pop Shop. He became a celebrity and the friend of celebrities. He jetted about the globe to execute huge public commissions both alone and with schoolchildren, with whom his rapport was uncanny. And at 32, he died, a victim of AIDS, which he'd arrived in Manhattan's gay scene at precisely the moment to fatefully intercept. Before he died, he started talking to Gruen and getting his friends and family to talk to Gruen. The results are this book, which takes the form of an oral history utterly without connective prose between the various speakers' testimonies and which is as fascinating as any artist's biography has ever been, as instantaneously classic as Haring's imagery. ~--Ray Olson

Publisher's Weekly Review

Melding graffiti, pop art and archetypal symbolism, Keith Haring's semiabstract human torsos, ``radiant babies'' and dogs gave street art unusual depth and popular appeal. Raised in a Pennsylvania Dutch farm town, Haring became a Jesus freak, a druggie and a hippie by age 15, and, in the Manhattan art world, a rebel consumed by restless energy and a thirst for celebrity. His death from AIDS in 1990 at age 31 left unresolved the debate over whether his art is ephemeral or lasting. Consisting entirely of transcripts of interviews with Haring, his parents, sisters, teachers, colleagues, lovers and art dealers, this pastiche reads like preliminary notes for a biography. Kenny Scharf, Timothy Leary, Madonna, Yoko Ono, Francesco Clemente, Roy Lichtenstein and William Burroughs are among the interviewees. Their appreciations of Haring and his kinetic art are eloquent and touching. Some 100 plates (most in color) are sprinkled throughout. Gruen's books include The New Bohemia. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Gruen tells the fascinating story of Haring, from his phenomenal rise on the international art scene as graffiti artist extraordinaire, whose ``radiant child'' became a worldwide symbol of the Eighties pop culture, to his tragic death from AIDS at the age of 31. The book focuses on Haring's creative talent--including sculpture, painting, murals, and graphic art projects--and on his compulsive work habits, tracing his progress from concept to installation of one-man shows in Australia, Japan, France, and Monaco, among others. His life and work are seen through personal and candid interviews with the artist, members of his family, friends, and celebrities, including William Burroughs, Timothy Leary, Madonna, and Princess Caroline. This shocking, graphic, and entertaining biography, however, depicts life in the fast lane, New York style, with its all-too-familiar components of celebrity, drugs, and sex. Recommended.-- Stephen Allan Patrick, East Tennessee State Univ. Lib., Johnson City (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.