Hidden for 30 Years, Keith Haring’s Largest Mural in Europe Has Now Returned to View in Amsterdam

The 1986 work had been hidden at the Stedelijk Museum's former storage for decades, until a Dutch street artist pushed for its return.

Keith Haring's recently unveiled mural in Amsterdam. Photo: Hanna Hachula. Courtesy Stedelijk Museum.

A mural by Keith Haring was revealed in Amsterdam last week, some 30 years after the US artist completed the commission, which was his gift to the Dutch city. The 40-foot-tall mural was painted by Haring in 1986 while he was in town for his exhibition at museum. It was covered a few years later when the entire facade of the brick building, which was then the Stedelijk’s art storage depot, had weatherboarding added to improve its climate controls.

Installed by the artist over two days, the single-white line mural features a mythical dog-headed creature being ridden by one of Haring’s X-marked figures. The Dutch mural is slightly bigger than Haring’s other monumental wall work in Pisa, Italy.

The long-hidden mural’s unveiling comes on the heels of another remarkable reinstallation of a Haring work at the Stedelijk from the same exhibition—which marked the artist’s first show in the Netherlands. The epic Keith Haring Velum, a 40 feet by 66 feet hand-painted canopy that was commissioned for the 1986 show was painstakingly restored over four months and hung in the main hall of the museum last fall. The exhibition closed at the beginning of June.

Despite Haring’s status today, the exhibition, which drew huge crowds, received mixed and often negative reviews from critics. Many were skeptical of whether a “street artist” deserved a place in such a museum.

Graffiti legend Aileen Middel (aka Mick La Rock) was behind the project, rallying all the parties involved to finally reveal this mysterious mural. In 2009, the Stedelijk moved its storage to another location. She came across a photograph four years ago of the work, and began on an odyssey to engage the museum about it. The building, which is in a working class district of the city, is now a storage for Markt Kwartier West, a food center in Amsterdam that also runs a market there. Though ownership of the building has changed hands, the Keith Haring Foundation owns the rights to the artwork, the Stedelijk Museum tells artnet News.

Middel, the interim manager of the Stedelijk, Jan Willem Sieburgh, and Julia Gruen, the director of the Keith Haring Foundation in New York, attended a ceremony to official welcome back Haring’s wall painting. Over the next weeks, restorers will take a look at the work’s condition.

Tate Liverpool announced last week that it was presenting a Keith Haring survey next summer in partnership with BOZAR, the Centre for Fine Arts Brussels, where it will travel in December 2019.


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