It’s been hidden for 29 years but is now available to see
Keith Haring’s childhood cartoon-inspired works are distinguishable for their thick black outlines filled with orange, green, red, yellow, blue. However, a new mural unveiled in Amsterdam is much more low key – so much that it remained hidden for 29 years.
The artist, who closely collaborated with Basquiat and Andy Warhol, originally traveled to Amsterdam in 1986 for a solo show at the Stedelijk Museum, alongside the creation of a boisterously colourful canvas inside the museum (which was recently restored and reinstalled). He also made a public work of art on the exterior wall of the building, the 40-foot-tall mural was completed in a day but was eventually hidden under cladding for decades.
Over the last couple of years graffiti artist Aileen Middel (a.k.a. Mick La Rock) pushed for the mural – his largest in Europe – to be revealed once again. Middel’s interest in Haring started in her childhood when she became interested in graffiti as it made its way to Europe from New York’s growing hip hop culture.
“I had somehow forgotten about the mural until about four years ago a picture of it came across my eyes on internet and I wondered what had happened to it,” she told Dazed. She embarked upon a passion project to find and reveal the artwork, working in conjunction with the Stedelijk Museum’s library, the Keith Haring Foundation, the Municipality of Amsterdam, and the project developers of Marktkwartier West
“The mural was under cladding for years and it was a very large undertaking requiring a great deal of lobbying and red tape from many people to get the cladding to come off so that the very beginning phase of understanding what conservation work might be best appropriate considering its current conditions could get started,” a spokesperson for the Haring Foundation said.
Will Shank and Antonio Rava who have previous restored large-scale Haring murals in Paris and Pisa will team up to restore the Amsterdam piece.
Middel also revealed how elated she is that the giant work of art is now available to be seen by the public. “You cannot imagine the feeling of seeing the piece uncovered,” she exclaimed. “To see the cladding come off slowly piece by piece was like a present that slowly gets unwrapped: watching the first white/yellowish lines of the painting peeping through… it was an incredible thrill; goose bumps and smiles. And now the whole wall has been uncovered, the impact of the mural is almost surreal. I am a happy person.”
It is yet another recent discovery of the artist’s work. Although he died in the 90s. New urban artwork of his was recently revealed in New York. Two panels from the epic 255 feet installation that once lined a storefront in Chinatown were rescued and exhibited in April.