The Dancing Naked Man

Sitting in a cafe with a couple of friends I spotted something very interesting on the ankle of a young lady sitting right across me. A dancing naked man. Tattooed on the girl's ankle, this mnemonic became the chosen topic for the evening. Till my friend Nic recognized it as Keith Haring's iconic work.

I assure you that everyone here would have seen Haring's work sometime or the other. I remember the 'barking dog' line drawing, but never connected it to the name of the artist. Well, this small incident was good enough for me to go back home and do a little search on the 'dancing naked man'.

Keith Haring was born on May 4, 1958 in Reading, Pennsylvania. He developed a love for drawing at a very early age, learning basic cartooning skills from his father and from the popular culture around him, such as Dr. Seuss and Walt Disney. 

Later, Haring moved to New York City and enrolled in the School of Visual Arts (SVA). In New York, Haring found a thriving alternative art community that was developing outside the gallery and museum system, in the downtown streets, the subways and spaces in clubs and former dance halls.

With popular influences Haring was able to push his own youthful impulses toward a singular kind of graphic expression based on the primacy of the line. Also drawn to the public and participatory nature of Andy Warhol’s unique fusion of art and life, Haring was determined to devote his career to creating a truly public art.

In 1980, Haring found a highly effective medium that allowed him to communicate with the wider audience he desired, when he noticed the unused advertising panels covered with matte black paper in a subway station. He began to create drawings in white chalk upon these blank paper panels throughout the subway system. Between 1980 and 1985, Haring produced hundreds of these public drawings in rapid rhythmic lines, sometimes creating as many as forty “subway drawings” in one day. This seamless flow of images became familiar to New York commuters, who often would stop to engage the artist when they encountered him at work. The subway became, as Haring said, a “laboratory” for working out his ideas and experimenting with his simple lines.

For more information on Keith's work , the Pop Shop which sells his merchandize and the Keith Haring Foundation, please refer to