In 1986, Keith Haring was called to Amsterdam to attend an exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum, the modern and contemporary art space of the Dutch capital. He has to paint an immense, multi-colored canvas with his unmistakable line to be exhibited inside the exhibition space, but the American writer asks, in addition, an external wall to make a work visible to everyone.
The organizers’ choice falls on the bricks-style façade of the museum’s depot, the perfect contrast for Haring to capture his swirling, but essential, art. A white brush in one hand, he realizes, just in one day, a hybrid creature halfway between a sea animal and a dog / wolf with the iconic “radiant boy” riding on the mythological animal.
Majestic with its 12 meters high and 15 meters long, the work was a gift from the artist in Amsterdam, a gift that however remained hidden for 30 years. Yes, because shortly thereafter, when the museum left the warehouse, the building was used for cold storage and was covered with insulating aluminum panels to maintain the temperature of the interior rooms adequate. So the mural, with the memory, was gradually eclipsed and in the daily raids we forgot about the work of Haring, who died four years later, in 1990, at age 31 for complications linked to AIDS.
But four years ago, Mick La Rock, born Aileen Esther Middel and among the first internationally renowned female graffiti artists, finds an old photograph of the work in her hands: it is time to act and remove the panels of the building that today It is no longer owned by the museum but is home to the Markt Kwartier West shopping center.
On 18 June 2018, thanks to the activism of Mick La Rock and the involvement of the Keith Haring Foundation and the Vroom & Varossieau gallery in Amsterdam, the mural is literally back to light and is visible from Willem de Zwijgerlaan street. “You can’t imagine when the first pieces of cladding came off, and you see the first stripes of Haring’s painting appear,” she said of the reveal.“Hey, we have a Haring!”.
Now the work of Keith Haring will be restored by Will Shank and Antonio Rava who have already worked on “Tuttomondo” of Pisa.