Keith Haring died of AIDS-related illnesses on February 16, 1990. On the eve of the 30th anniversary of his death, BOZAR celebrates and discusses his art and activism in a frank conversation with Julia Gruen. 

Julia Gruen is the Executive Director of the Keith Haring Foundation. She was the artist’s studio manager and confidant from 1984 until the end of his life, accompanying Haring as he transformed from counter-culture figure to global 80s art star. When he established the Keith Haring Foundation in 1989, he appointed Gruen its director, a position she holds to this day. 

As a professional collaborator and personal friend, Julia Gruen is a key witness to both the New York art scene of the 1980s and Haring’s international career. As a guardian of his art, ideas and charitable goals, she is the ideal guest to discuss his evolving position in art history and in contemporary society. 

Did you know?

  • Keith Haring The Activist

    Keith Haring was an artist who took to the streets. He handed out pamphlets, put up posters, drew in subways and painted on walls in an optimistic battle against those in power. He invested the same unbridled energy in his political and social activism as he did in his art. Quite the ride from paperboy in conservative Kutztown to celebrated artist-activist in NYC.

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  • Keith Haring and the NY club scene

    The Art of the Party

    When Keith Haring arrived in New York at the end of the 1970s it was a very different place from what it is today. The decade had been extremely volatile economically and the city was pretty much bankrupt. The millionaires still swanned around Central Park uptown but downtown neighbourhoods like the East Village were derelict , dangerous and undesirable. Cheap rents made it a magnet for the young, the liberal and the artistic, and Keith Haring and his friends ticked al of those boxes:

    — published on