New Books From Simon Doonan, on Self-Help and Keith Haring

Are you a “king of the camp” like Liberta, a devil queen who lives in “a satin upholstered jewelry box”, such as Dita von Tiese, or so effortlessly that you are “unclassified”, a la Phyllis Diller. There are those in the middle, who have a room dedicated to them. To do her wigs? It does not matter, as long as your home is a part of personal expression. Lack of money, he says, should not be a constraint, because, in matters of beauty, it is inversely proportional to taste.

The problem with many self-help books is that they are vague and vague, with their theories removed from any real-life examples. “How to be yourself” mostly avoids this common pitfall, as Mr. Dunan takes readers on an anthropological tour he admires and includes a mini-history of influential mentors.

Nevertheless, the second book Mr. Dunan recently published, “Keith Harring”, about the prolific late artist, underscores an idea that I have long held true: biography is the best self-help. The principles of living life arise from an exemplary life story – or from a life that was not so exemplary. The lessons are not separated from their origins.

In this slick volume, Mr. Dunan recounts the story of a driven youth from the small town of Kutztown, Pa., Who inevitably drew from an early age, dropped out of vocational art school, and moved to New York City in 1978 . In search of intensity – sexual, professional, emotional and artistic. “

Inspired by the graffiti movement, he began transforming public buildings and painted his famous cartoon iconography – children, dogs, flying pyramids, dancing men – crawling on empty advertising spots in the metro. “Art,” he wrote in his magazine, “is for everyone.”

In just a few years, he followed a cult following, and by the age of 25, he was a world-renowned pop artist in the vein of Andy Warhol. Like Mr. Warhol, he considered art as a business, and his pop shop, which he opened in 1986 with an impulse to offer his art in an affordable form of T-shirts and buttons, was one of a kind.

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