New York artist Keith Haring was many things during his lifetime – an iconic street artist who worked in the New York subway system and beyond, a fine artist who broke the boundaries between street art and contemporary art, a queer icon in the 1980s and friend of Andy Warhol.
As the artist once said: “Art should be something that liberates your soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further.”
Now, Haring is being honored in a new Polaroid camera as part of pride month. The new Polaroid x Keith Haring camera, which honors the artist’s visionary spirit and work through a special-edition Polaroid Now camera.
The new camera, which launches today, is not your average Polaroid. The camera, a Polaroid Now camera, co-created with the Keith Haring Foundation, prints out its i-Type instant film, which is marked with Haring’s signature motifs – cartoonish patterns that he was known for in his murals, paintings and marker-based subway drawings.
Haring was born in small town Pennsylvania, but it didn’t take him long before he made a splash in the New York art scene. Throughout the 1980s, he was a key figure in the art world, where he used his public artworks for social activism, especially drawing attention to AIDS.
He emblazoned his murals (over 50 he created in his lifetime) which all had messages of love, unity and peace. That helped spark his art career, exhibiting in high profile art biennales, art exhibitions and having a retrospective at the Whitney Museum in 1997. He was the first artist to sell his artwork in a pop-up boutique, which he called the Pop Shop and was one of the trail-blazers of the pop art movement.
It isn’t every day that a camera honors a legendary artist, but this camera captures the do-it-yourself spirit that Haring was known for. The best part? The camera is affordable, priced at $119.99 from Polaroid’s online shop. Now, creatives can truly make trouble.
This camera takes us back to the time when analogue cameras were the norm. Haring would often document the process of his murals (which took hours, days and sometimes weeks to create) with a Polaroid camera.
This particular camera that honors the artist, is designed in patterns of red, black and white, is designed to spark arty inspiration. With analog i-Type film patterned in Haring’s signature penmanship, each package of film will cost $17.99 for a set of 10 photos.
“Ever since the heyday of New York in the 1980s, Keith Haring and Polaroid have had a mutual admiration for each other’s work,” said Marta Martinez, the chief marketing officer of Polaroid.
“We are so proud to keep Keith’s legacy alive, which is why we approached this collection of Polaroid products as another love letter to his amazing work.”
Throughout his lifetime, many of Haring’s friends took Polaroid portraits of the artist. Haring also used his own Polaroid camera to take selfies. These shots remain some of the most natural portraits we have of the artist today. According to Gil Vazquez, the acting director of the Keith Haring Studio, it was a natural collaboration.
“Keith took a lot of Polaroid shots himself, so there is a legacy here that we are really happy to celebrate,” said Vasquez.