Photo Essays

Giant Keith Haring Mural Revealed Nearly 30 Years After It Was Covered Up

Painted in 1986, the mural was covered up with aluminum siding three years later and has only just been brought back to light.

Keith Haring's recently uncovered Amsterdam mural (photo by Hanna Hachula, courtesy the Stedelijk Museum)
Keith Haring’s recently uncovered Amsterdam mural (photo by Hanna Hachula, courtesy the Stedelijk Museum)

Last week, a mural Keith Haring painted in Amsterdam in 1986 was re-exposed to the public after being covered up by insulation panels for 29 years.

Haring traveled to Amsterdam in 1986 for a solo show at the Stedelijk Museum. In addition to creating a large-scale and riotously colorful canvas inside the museum (which it recently restored and reinstalled), he asked if he could make a public work. The museum offered the exterior wall of its art storage facility, and Haring set to work, completing the 40-foot-tall mural in a single, chilly day in March 1986.

Keith Haring working on his Amsterdam mural in 1986 (photo by Patricia Steur, courtesy the Stedelijk Museum)
Keith Haring working on his Amsterdam mural in 1986 (photo by Patricia Steur, courtesy the Stedelijk Museum)

The mural, rendered in white paint that pops against the red brick wall, depicts an enormous fish-dog hybrid figure with a more characteristic Haring figure riding on its back. The mural is signed “XXX KH86” in its lower-right-hand corner. Three years later, the Stedelijk moved out of the city-owned building, which became a cold storage facility, and aluminum insulation siding was added to its exterior, completely concealing Haring’s mural.

Following the restoration of the Stedelijk’s large canvas and a campaign by the Dutch street artist Aileen “Mick La Rock” Middel, the museum, the Keith Haring Foundation, and street art dealer Olivier Varossieau organized the removal of the panels. The virtually unscathed mural was uncovered on June 18.

Keith Haring's recently uncovered Amsterdam mural (photo by Hanna Hachula, courtesy the Stedelijk Museum)
Keith Haring’s recently uncovered Amsterdam mural (photo by Hanna Hachula, courtesy the Stedelijk Museum)

“The mural was under cladding for [29] 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 told Hyperallergic. “No timeline currently exists for its conservation and the development of the ‘Market Quarter’ will take many many more years to be completed.”

According to the New York Times, the team of Will Shank and Antonio Rava — who previously restored large-scale Haring murals in Paris and Pisa — will work on restoring the Amsterdam mural.

Keith Haring working on his Amsterdam mural in 1986 (photo by Patricia Steur, courtesy the Stedelijk Museum)
Keith Haring working on his Amsterdam mural in 1986 (photo by Patricia Steur, courtesy the Stedelijk Museum)
De Hallen Amsterdam
Keith Haring's recently uncovered Amsterdam mural (photo by Hanna Hachula, courtesy the Stedelijk Museum)
Keith Haring’s recently uncovered Amsterdam mural (photo by Hanna Hachula, courtesy the Stedelijk Museum)
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