Line & Color with Keith Haring
Description of the Unit –
Students explored the work of contemporary New York artist Keith Haring. A crafty, resourceful and thoughtful artist, Haring created artwork with powerful messages using deceptively simple, cartoon-like designs in a variety of spaces, both private and public. His work was accessible to a diverse public in ways few artists had achieved.
Students observed and discussed his use of bold, primary and secondary colors, but more importantly they focused on Haring’s use of straightforward line to suggest movement, gesture and feeling. Students attempted their own designs inspired by the characteristics of Haring’s work. The first lesson had students create designs in 2-D, the second in 3-D.
Concept/Activity statement –
Keith Haring, (1958-1990), engaged facets of pop culture, “low art” and cartoon with components that were once solely belonging to “high” art domains. Inspired by street art such as graffiti and murals, Haring worked with bright, artificial colors, and used accessible, almost childlike imagery, therefore engaging many viewers of all ages and backgrounds, as well as to inspire artists of all stripes. As both an artist and an activist he strove to depict serious issues in fun, lively ways with animated cartoon-like images and vibrant, saturated colors.
For both the 2-D and 3-D versions of this lesson the emphasis is on Haring’s use of symbolic language through line and shape: Haring suggests movement by using motion lines, and uses emphasis lines to suggest something is valuable or important; and uses shapes as symbols to represent an idea or a meaning. Additionally in the 2-D lesson students also explored the use of bright, bold, saturated colors to draw the viewers eye to the images.
Great resources for learning more about Keith Haring can be found at the Keith Haring Foundation, www.Haring.com, as well as https://www.theartstory.org/artist/haring-keith/.
- The ways in which Haring uses line to communicate movement, feelings or value
- The ways in which Haring’s use of color acts to draw the viewer in
- The ways in which certain shapes can symbolize a thing or an idea
- Who Keith Haring was and what his primary aims in art were.
- The terms “low art” and “high art”
- Ways in which movement, or rhythm, can be shown in a work of art through line
- The terms “symbol” and “symbolize”
Be able to:
- Recognize Haring’s work
- Suggest movement through motion lines
- Use color to draw attention
- Explore the work of Keith Haring
- Create two different Haring-style designs, one a line drawing using motion lines to suggest movement and bright colors to make the image stand out; and two a 3-D paper sculpture of a simple human figure in the middle of an activity, with motion lines to suggest movement, as well as
(The idea for the 3-D Keith Haring lesson came from this wonderful blog, please check it out: http://mrspetersonsartpage.blogspot.com/2012/05/keith-haring-project.html)
Resources and materials –
(For lesson 1 – the 2D drawing)
- Diverse Keith Haring exemplars
- White card stock or Bristol paper (8.5×11)
- Fine and broad-tip black Sharpies
- Multicolored markers
(For lesson 2, the 3-D paper sculpture)
- Diverse Keith Haring exemplars
- Black Bristol paper (or any other heavy weight black paper) for the format
- Colored construction paper cut into strips of various lengths
- Glue brushes
Questions for students –
(While looking at different examples of Haring’s work)
What do you see?
How would you describe these colors?
Can you move like these figures? (Have students demonstrate.)
Does it look like these figures are moving? How do you think Haring suggests that?
Why do you think these lines are thicker? Why are these curved?
What do you think about Haring’s work?
Do these paintings remind you of anything you’ve seen before? What?
How do these images make you feel? Why?
Do you consider this art? Why or why not?
Understand the ways in which Haring suggests movement or value?
Recognize messages in Haring’s work?
Apply line to suggest movement?
Use color to draw attention to their images?
- Student questions
- Group discussions
- Oral responses to essential questions
- At least one finished piece
- Elaboration and risk-taking