Drawing on Walls: A Story of Keith Haring

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$18.95  $17.62
Enchanted Lion
Publish Date
9.7 X 12.6 X 0.8 inches | 1.6 pounds

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About the Author

Matthew Burgess is a full-time professor at Brooklyn College and a part-time teaching artist in New York City public schools. He was fascinated by the lives of saints as a child, and now he loves sharing the stories of his artistic heroes with young readers. Matthew is the author of Enormous Smallness: A Story of E. E. Cummings, Drawing on Walls: A Story of Keith Haring, and Make Meatballs Sing: The Life & Art of Corita Kent. He lives with his husband in Brooklyn and Berlin.

Josh Cochran grew up in Taiwan and California. Based in Brooklyn, NY, he works as an artist and illustrator, often painting murals. In 2013, his work on Ben Kweller's Go Fly A Kite received a Grammy nomination for Best Limited Edition Packaging. He has a number of side projects, and sometimes exhibits his work in galleries. This marks his picture book debut.

"Drawing On Walls: A Story of Keith Haring is gorgeous and deeply inspiring...this large padded hardcover book is beautifully constructed and illustrated with a thoughtfully told story." -Inclusive Storytime
This big, beautiful biography of Keith Haring includes illustrations that encapsulate the iconic American artist's work and life. Each page contains a few sentences, but all pages feature full-color artwork that mimics Haring's well-known murals. Cochran's visuals effectively capture the sense of movement and fluidity of Haring's work. The story begins with Haring's childhood and covers the origins of his interest in drawing. Burgess describes the struggle of being an artist in New York City in the 1980s and the city's art scene. The book concludes with a biographical note, an author's note, an illustrator's note, and sources for the quotations that were used. VERDICT This bright literary work is packed with well-researched and well-written biographical notes on Haring's short life and the impact he made on the art world and public art. An ideal choice for primary school through high school libraries, especially ones geographically represented in the story (New York, Pennsylvania).-Starred Review, SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
DRAWING ON WALLS is a tender and beautifully written biography of Haring's short life. Matthew Burgess, the book's talented writer, set out to tell Haring's tale without embellishment, sugarcoating or regret. The result is a joyful celebration of Haring's world. -The New York Times

"Burgess describes Haring discovering Robert Henri's The Art Spirit in college ("He felt as if the book was speaking directly to him"), encountering the large paintings of Pierre Alechinsky (he was "blown away"), and recognizing a common impulse in dancers at the West Village's Paradise Garage ("For Keith, drawing and painting were like dancing. He called it 'mind-to-hand flow'"). Cochran uses a thick black line to suggest Haring's creations, and renders figures in a Haring-esque style without seeming gimmicky. Of interest to young readers are Haring's frequent efforts to involve children in mural-making projects. The story, including a respectful acknowledgement of Haring's death from AIDS, makes the subject seem immediate and real--and presents a compelling vision of answering the call to create." --Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

"Thirty years after Keith Haring's death of AIDS-related complications, this vibrant picture book brings the iconic pop artist's work and story to the hearts of a new generation. Often featuring a bold black line, Cochran's painterly illustrations drive the narrative--bursting with movement and color--utilizing a wide variety of perspectives and both spot and full-bleed illustrations to dance around the text in a suitably neo-expressionist tribute to the subject. Stylized and simplified figures fill the pages with smiling faces in a broad spectrum of skin tones and body types, opening the door on Haring's passionately held belief that "Art is for everybody." Without erasing or dwelling on any particular aspect of Haring's personal life, author Burgess outlines Haring's relationships with art, with children, and with his partner, Juan DuBose, in straightforward, accessible language--from his childhood in Pennsylvania to his "final mark" in Pisa, Italy (five months before his death)--with the same bold honesty and vibrance visible in his subject's art career. Biographical, author's, and illustrator's notes back up the book, supplementing the broad strokes of the text with finer detail and more individual perspectives on Haring's personal, political, and artistic legacies. An inspired, and inspiring, continuation of Haring's intention." --Kirkus

"Everything about this book spells gentleness and creativity. On large spreads filled with Cochran's primary-color-soaked art in Haring's trademark graffiti-doodle style, the late artist is shown exuberantly creating his work and sharing it with children and others. Young readers will identify with the child Keith who drew everywhere, "'But not on the walls!" as his mother warned. Burgess' description of Haring's early life is lively and poignant, given that adult readers know the sad ending that's coming. In between, however, the author joyfully describes his subject's creations, fun and spontaneous art practices as a child and later as a successful artist, artistic influences, and travels to share his art with the world. Burgess' description of the intense creativity unleashed when Haring moved to New York City and fell in love with subway graffiti will bring home to young artists that the everyday world can be a rich inspiration for their work. Haring's sexuality isn't mentioned, but the author notes as part of the biographical details that Haring fell in love with "a deejay named Juan Dubose" and "together, they were happy." Similarly, Haring's death from "a serious illness called AIDS" is touched upon, but cloaked in Burgess' emphasis that even after the artist's death, his love of art and his passion and determination that art is for everybody lives on." -Starred Review, BOOKLIST
"Never taking its eye off of what matters, Drawing On Walls justifies its very existence by justifying the very existence of its subject...to choose Josh Cochran for this particular project was nothing short of inspired. While the colors pop and the lines are big and black and thick, it's almost as much fun to watch the design at work (scribbles spilling over a book's gutter to start to fill the other side) as the art itself. Drawing On Walls is the kind of book that you wish other writers of children's nonfiction would read." -School Library Journal
"Having previously composed Enormous Smallness -- the wondrous picture-book biography of E.E. Cummings, another artist who so passionately believed that "it takes courage to grow up and become who you really are" -- Burgess was impelled to invite young people into Keith Haring's singular art and the large heart from which it sprang. And so Drawing on Walls: A Story of Keith Haring (public library) was born -- a splendid addition to the most inspiring picture-book biographies of cultural heroes. Burgess's tender words, harmonized by muralist and illustrator Josh Cochran's ebullient art, follow the young Keith from his childhood in small-town Pennsylvania, drawing at the kitchen table with his dad and dipping his little sister's palms in paint to make her a mobile of handprints, to his improbable path to New York City." -Brain Pickings
"Bright and bold as Keith Haring's art, this book follows the artist's ever-energetic creative drive. Author Burgess and illustrator Cochran show how generous a person he was, and how children played a central part in his life and work." -The Wall Street Journal