Keith Haring’s new-found Amsterdam mural will remain on the wall

The modern look of the mural

In a few weeks, specialists are ready to restore the lost fragments of the work created by the artist in a spontaneous impulse.

Inspired by the successful restoration of Keith Haring’s (1958–1990) street murals in other cities, restorers intend to begin work on his 1986 Amsterdam piece, which suffers from significant paint loss. Local activists have been calling for the restoration of the mural since its unveiling in 2018.

Haring has always strived to make his art as accessible to the general public as possible. He created this work when he arrived in Amsterdam for his first solo exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum.

In his usual manner, according to Will Shank, an independent restorer from the United States, who, together with his Italian colleague Antonio Rava, hopes to restore the drawing, Haring spontaneously demanded: Someone, find me a wall! A suitable brick wall was found on the territory of the Central Market, this building then housed the funds of the Stedelijk Museum.

For his street work, Haring relied on the first materials he came across. In that case, it was an oil-based alkyd paint that does not last long in the open air.

According to Shank, the artist painted a line of titanium white directly onto the brick surface without preliminary sketches. The resulting drawing measuring 12×15 m is not quite typical for an artist. It depicts a creature with a dog’s head, a caterpillar’s body, human hands, and a fish’s tail, saddled by a Haring’s signature man.

Keith Haring's new-found Amsterdam mural will remain on the wall
Keith Haring with the finished mural on the wall of the Central Market. 1986

According to witnesses, it was difficult for Haring to paint due to the chilly weather. According to the restorer’s estimates, the white line has not fixed on 20% of the surface, and now these areas have to be restored. After the renovation, a water-repellent coating will be applied to the paint layer to protect the artwork from rain, soot, and ultraviolet radiation.

The restoration, worth € 180,000, is paid in equal shares by the Haring Foundation, the city of Amsterdam, and the Marktkwartier food market, to which the building now belongs.


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