Keith Haring invented his own pictorial language, and through the use of these repeated motifs and characters, created artistic works with definable political and social messages. Here, Haring’s fear of technology’s power to dehumanise society is shown by a stick-wielding oppressive figure riding a caterpillar-computer monster, controlling headless figures, robbed of their capacity for thought and individuality. The caterpillar was a symbol of transition and transformation for Haring, but here, with its computer screen head displaying an act of control, the allusion is a threatening and sinister transformation face by society. In 1984 he wrote in his journal that ‘The problem facing modern man now is compounded by the increasing power of technology and its misuse by those in power who wish only to control.’
Date of work
Keith Haring (1958 – 1990) was an American artist, and one of the leading figures of the graffiti art movement which emerged from New York in the 1980s. Haring rose to International acclaim after creating spontaneous chalk drawings on blank advertising spaces in New York subway stations. His work reflected a profound commitment to social justice and activism, raising issues that remain relevant today, including the AIDS crisis, racism, and environmental degradation. He was a champion for public access to art in his lifetime, and established the Keith Haring Foundation in 1989, which provides funding and imagery to charities working with AIDS and youth programmes, and brings his work to a wider audience.