Amsterdam is now home to the largest Keith Haring mural in Europe, hidden for 30 years in an old storage depot – until now.
A monumental 12-metre-high mural by the late New York artist Keith Haring has recently been uncovered in Amsterdam. After spending three decades in the darkness, it was finally revealed last week at a press conference in the city’s Market Quarter.
The work traces back to Haring’s debut European museum exhibition in Rotterdam in 1982, and is classic Haring, featuring a white-outlined figure riding a strange sea creature, which preceded his first solo museum in 1986 at Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. The mural, which took two days to paint, served as a gift to the city and was created in a lower-income neighborhood. Eventually, the work was boarded up to preserve climate control inside the structure but resurfaced after years of lobbying from city locals.
Only a few years after being painted, Haring’s Amsterdam mural was boarded up with aluminium panels to control the internal temperature of the building. Its grand reveal has been the work of years of local campaigning – with graffiti artist Mick La Rock (real name Aileen Middel) and the Dutch gallery Vroom&Varossieu leading the ‘Save Our Haring’ project, after discovering the former depot was slated for demolition.
Haring passed away in 1990, aged just 31, from Aids complications. Known for his signature UFOs, barking dogs and ‘radiant babies’, was an American artist whose pop art and graffiti-like work grew out of the New York City street culture of the 1980s. Haring's work grew to popularity from his spontaneous drawings in New York City subways – chalk outlines on blank black advertising-space backgrounds – depicting radiant babies, flying saucers, and deified dogs. After public recognition he created larger scale works such as colorful murals, many of them commissioned. His imagery has "become a widely recognized visual language". His later work often addressed political and societal themes – especially homosexuality and AIDS – through his own iconography.