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After remaining hidden for almost 30 years, an enormous Keith Haring mural has been uncovered in Amsterdam. Haring left this monumental artwork to the city as a gift and completed it while working on another project for Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum – but until now, it has been concealed from view.
Haring painted the piece in question onto the side of the Stedelijk’s storage facility in Amsterdam-West, over the course of two days in 1986. Like many other artworks by Haring from this period, the mural features abstract, cartoon-like figures outlined with thick brushstrokes – in this case, a human riding a dog-headed sea monster. As the mural measures 12 metres from top to bottom, it is the largest Keith Haring artwork currently located in Europe (a title that was previously held by another wall-spanning piece in Pisa, Italy).
Haring came to Amsterdam to create a solo exhibition for the Stedelijk in 1986 and decided to paint the mural as a parting gift to the city. Although the artwork was meant for public display, soon after it was completed, the mural was completely covered by aluminum plating that was installed on the depot’s outer walls in order to control its internal temperature. Eventually, the Stedelijk sold the storage facility to another organisation called Markt Kwartier West, who considered demolishing it to make way for another building project.
After discovering that the building could soon be demolished, a team of local campaigners led by graffiti artist Mick La Rock (Aileen Middel) and gallery owner Olivier Varossieau successfully lobbied against the depot’s demolition. On June 18, 2018, Haring’s mural was once again unveiled to the public after it had spent almost three decades hidden from view.
As it happens, the Stedelijk recently revealed another artwork created by Haring during his time in Amsterdam, specifically a large velum canvas painted with dancing figures, which is currently installed above the museum’s central staircase where it filters light through an overhead window.