The Keith Haring mural in Amsterdam, his largest preserved piece in public space in Europe, is once again out in the open for the public to enjoy. It shows a "sea monster" painted with thick line. Created on the former depot of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam in 1986, it was concealed behind aluminum plates for the past 30 years.
Four years ago, graffiti artist Aileen Middel aka Mick la Rock took the initiative to bring all parties involved together and to motivate and convince everyone of the importance of preserving this piece. As the artist explains, all she wanted was to see the Haring given back to Amsterdam and the world.
The most important thing I kept in mind was to stay positive and persistent when yet all important parties were not looking into the same direction. I just had that drive to let them all know how important and unique this piece of art is and what a gem we have to be proud of.
During his tragically short but prolific artistic career, Keith Haring left a deep mark in the world of contemporary art, inspiring generations of future artists. He traveled all across the globe to paint vibrant murals and spread his message. Today, there are only a few left in the world.
A huge fan of Haring herself, Mick La Rock began to wonder what could have happened to the historic piece the artist created in Amsterdam. After some research in the library of the Stedelijk Museum, she realized the mural has been covered up but has remained intact.
The following year, she received an email from Julia Gruen, director of the Keith Haring Foundation, regarding the piece in question. That was the birth of the initiative called Save Our Haring.
After realizing that the Food Center, where the mural is located, was going to be redeveloped and was threatened with demolition, Mick La Rock contacted Olivier Varossieau of Vroom & Varossieau to become her teammate. Olivier gladly joined the project in which his gallery played a crucial bureaucratic role. Market Quarter West, the owner of the building, recognized the added value of the artwork for the area and has therefore agreed to remove the panels.
After years of negotiating with real estate developers and making restoration efforts, the mural finally saw the light of day on June 18th. The revealing of the mural was very emotional for all parties involved.
Goosebumps and tears in my eyes!, says Mickey. It felt almost surreal. Imagine the first brush strikes of our Haring seeing daylight, the same type of rain in which Keith painted the mural, the shared joy and pride of all the people involved and present at the site. A dream come true!
Very special moment this morning: the Amsterdam KEITH HARING mural sees daylight (and rain) after being hidden for 30 years. We were there to witness and celebrate this together with @vroomandvarossieau @stedelijkmuseum @jasperkrabbe @ballastnedam @volkerwesselsinbeeld @keithharingfoundation @gemeenteamsterdam and the famous restorers Will Shank and Antonio Rava. #veryspecialmoment #keithharing #dreamcomestrue #amsterdamkeithharing #saveourharing #urbancontemporaryart #graffitiart #mural #1986
Now that the mural is out in the open, the Stedelijk Museum, The Keith Haring Foundation, The Municipality of Amsterdam and the project developers of Marktkwartier West will continue the dialogue to see how the mural can be best preserved for the future.
Mick La Rock explains that this case shows the importance of preserving art in the city landscape. She adds there have been discussions in Amsterdam about appointing a "city curator" that could be consulted regarding this matter. "Cities like Helsinki or Rotterdam have one. I express the hope that Amsterdam will soon follow. I am available for the function," she says. "So... if you have a Keith Haring hidden somewhere, please call me," the artist adds laughing.
The mural is currently not publicly accessible but can be seen from Willem de Zwijgerlaan street in Amsterdam West. There will be a one time visit organized on Friday, June 22nd at 2:30 p.m, followed by a press conference. Artists Jan Rothuizen, Jasper Krabbé and Mick La Rock will be present.
Featured image: Keith Haring mural in Amsterdam. All images courtesy of Mick La Rock.