Art Plus – Untitled (Figures with Heart) – 1982 – A painting by Keith Haring

Love’s Forbidden Songs

Loves forbidden songs
Breakers crash against the shore
Summer’s music plays

About the Painting

The radiant heart-love motif would be repeated in many of Haring’s paintings and drawings throughout his career.

This innocent yet apparently controversial image of two men in love is mild in comparison with Haring’s later sexually explicit images. The bravery and boldness of representing homosexual love at this point in time was already a significant statement and a marked achievement in the larger cultural realm.

In this painting, two people are depicted in love, with Haring’s often-used lines of energy emphasizing this euphoric state as much as the kinetic movement of these figures’ bodies in space.

The image distills the artist’s optimistic attitude. Haring was, at heart, in many ways a Romantic, believing in humanity and the power of love.

Visually, the image is classic Haring with its flat, two-dimensional surface, cartoon-like simplicity and the use of vibrant, saturated colours.

Haring often outlined his characters and scenes with thick black lines reminiscent of many earlier modern artists (such as Picasso), as well as from the Pop art movement (Warhol), in addition to Haring’s contemporaries the 1980s New York City graffiti artists.

Haring’s use of vibrant lines in and around his subjects conveys a sense of energetic dynamism, both positive and negative. Some attribute his adoption of this visual sign to the influence of Hip Hop music, where the visual imagery of dark lines was used to represent the impact of sound on listeners.

Haring’s artistic paintings called for radical new cultural possibilities and greatly expanded social understanding of prevailing contemporary social issues of the day.

Painting Attribution © Keith Haring, Untitled (Figures with Heart), 1982

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About the Painting Reference Attribution

Poem Attribution © Goff James, Love’s Forbidden Songs

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