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Keith Haring, Icons (A) - Radiant Baby, 1990. Courtesy of Woodward Gallery.

Keith Haring: Radiant Baby

In the 1980s, Keith Haring turned the New York City subway into his art studio, using chalk to etch his now-famous designs wherever he could find space. One of these designs was a crawling child or “Radiant Baby,” which Haring called “the purest and most positive experience of human existence.” Haring often used the infant to represent Jesus in nativity scenes or alongside crosses. Over time, the “Radiant Baby” gained darker significance through Haring’s depictions of nuclear proliferation, in which the baby appears inside atomic mushroom clouds and scenes of war and violence. While “Radiant Baby” can be interpreted in several ways, the design was Haring’s personal favorite among his iconic creations and is now cherished as the artist’s signature tag.

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