Keith Haring: Street Art Boy (BBC 2) Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is a very interesting story, which I actually knew very little about, even though I had gained a little interest about him following the release of a special edition Dunny figure based on his work by Kid Robot a little earlier this year. But other than being a little aware of his very unique and recognizable style, I didn’t know too much about Keith Haring the man.

This documentary does an amazing job of changing that!

Being active in the 80’s he shot to fame and became a pop culture icon, rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous. For his birthday he’d throw huge parties which became some of the most saught after social events in New York at the time and in return he would be invited to parties and exhibitions around the world – jet setting for commissions around the globe on concorde on a regular basis.

Seeing a glimpse in to this lifestyle with interviews with him back in the 80s, footage of him working at the same time and then interviews with his closest friends and colleagues today really helps to set the scene.

This documentary however is a posthumous one as were so many of his solo art shows, and it is amazing to see the dedication and spirit he maintained until the last weeks of his life. If this movie doesn’t show you what you can achieve (especially today with modern medicine) and a great attitude, then nothing will. To say that he is an inspiration is a huge understatement and I feel genuinely disappointed that it took me this long to learn more about him, and I have this documentary to thank.

It’s so much more than just a biography of his life, it’s also a social commentary of the 80’s and the wildly varying tolerances over subjects such as fame, sex, drugs and sexuality… Even today, especially with the problems which are being faced by black communities right now, his art work remains so poignant and relevant. He faced a lot of criticism for assimilating in to black culture and society 30 years ago, and it is amazing to see that his paintings to support those communities can still play just as big a role in debates today.

If you are interested even in the slightest in art, pop culture, the 80s and early 90s, celebrity or the political debates and movements of the past 20 to 30 years, there is no doubt that you will find something in this documentary which is bright, enjoyable, insightful, tasteful and overall just incredibly well delivered.

Well done BBC 2, you’ve actually earned a tenners worth of your tv license fee this year! I would still much rather have some paid adverts between shows rather than being forced in to paying a license fee for a channel I watch once or twice a year – get with the times BBC!

You can watch it now on the BBC iPlayer using the link below:

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