It's hard to believe that it's been 36 years since artist Keith Haring first opened his Pop Shop in SoHo, Manhattan.
But even though the store has closed its doors, the legacy of the Pop Shop remains alive and well.
A Brief History of Keith Haring
Keith Haring was an American artist who became hugely popular in the 1980's for his unique street art style. He began his career by drawing chalk outlines of animals on the sidewalks near his home. He later moved to New York City, where he steadily gained a following for his bright and often political graffiti art.
Haring first gained attention with his chalk drawings in New York City subways, which he later turned into larger paintings and sculptures. Haring's art is also characterized by simple lines that feature images of babies, hearts, and other innocent-looking figures. He used to comment on social issues such as AIDS, racism, and nuclear war.
The Legacy of The Pop Shop
In addition to his artistic career, Haring was heavily involved with activism and charity work throughout his life. For example he founded several influential establishments and organizations throughout his career to raise money for AIDS research and other causes.
Haring's Pop Shop, which opened its doors in 1986, was one of the first stores in New York City to sell affordable art to the masses. Located in the heart of SoHo, the shop was filled with Haring's vibrant and playful art, much of which was inspired by the city itself.
"The use of commercial projects has enabled me to reach millions of people I would not have reached by remaining an unknown artist. I assumed, after all, that the point of making art was to communicate and contribute to culture." - Haring
The shop became a destination for art lovers and tourists alike, and it helped spread Haring's unique style of art to a broader audience. And it also quickly became a hotspot for young artists and celebrities, who flocked to browse the merchandise and mingle with Haring and his friends.
The Pop Shop became an attraction for young people looking to express themselves through fashion and art. It also helped to cement Haring's reputation as one of the leading artists of his generation. In addition to selling Haring's art, the Pop Shop also featured various products, including t-shirts, toys, and prints.
One of the unique features of the shop was its "Graffiti Wall." The massive mural was created by Haring himself and features some of his most iconic characters. Many artists and celebrities who visited his shop have been inspired by his distinctive style, including pop singer Madonna, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Andy Warhol.
Without a doubt, the shop had a significant impact on Haring's career and helped to popularize his work.
In 1987 Haring expanded the Pop Shop and later opened a Pop Shop in Tokyo. He also painted the inside walls, creating another captivating experience in his aesthetic. The Tokyo Pop Shop closed its doors in 1988, and the NYC Pop Shop location closed in September of 2005.
In 2006, the history of the Pop Shop was examined, and in 2009, The Tate Modern decided to reconstruct the New York Pop Shop once again to recreate the feeling of this iconic art store in history.
The Outsize Influence of Keith Haring's Art
Although both shops are now closed, Haring's work continues to be popular with celebrities and collectors alike. For example, in 2018, a clothing company, Alice + Olivia, made Haring's iconic '80s Art into a wearable collection. And recently, in 2020, Cole Sprouse of Riverdale stars in the new collaboration of Disney, Coach, and Keith Haring himself. It features a collection of apparel and accessories with Haring's inspiring illustrations of Mickey Mouse from the '80s.
Today, Pop Shop is considered an iconic part of Haring's legacy, and his products are highly sought-after by collectors.
In short, Haring's Pop Shop was an essential part of the artist's career and left a lasting impact on the world of pop art.