Keith Haring was an American artist and social activist known for his illustrative graffiti motifs depicting figures and symbols. Haring’s assured drawings were often found scrawled over New York’s public spaces and subways. The artist’s mural Crack is Wack (1986) can still be seen on a retaining wall along FDR Drive in Manhattan. “I don't think art is propaganda,” he stated. “It should be something that liberates the soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further. It celebrates humanity instead of manipulating it.” Born on May 4, 1958 in Reading, PA, he was inspired to draw from an early age by his father who was an amateur cartoonist. After having briefly studied commercial art in Pittsburgh, Haring moved to New York in the late 1970s where he attended the School of Visual Arts. By the early 1980s, he had befriended fellow artists Kenny Scharf and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Diagnosed with AIDS in 1987, Haring’s prodigious career was brief. Tragically, the artist died of AIDS-related complications on February 16, 1990 at the age of 31. He like other artists of his generation were committed to raising awareness of the illness through art, while the US government remained largely inactive.