Before his death, in 1990, Keith Haring had gone from being an American superstar to becoming an international icon. He was commissioned to paint murals in Australia, Rio, Paris and on the Berlin Wall.
Keith Haring in Amsterdam
Keith Haring had his first solo museum show in 1986 at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. As a gift to the city, Haring painted a large mural on the wall of a building that had served as a warehouse for the museum. Two years after he painted the mural, which depicts a white, thick-lined sea creature, the wall was covered with aluminum siding for climate control within the building. The area surrounding the building was a low-income neighborhood in 1986 and is now the location of Amsterdam’s Markt Kwartier, or Food Market. The mural was covered, and forgotten, for 30 years.
Enter Mick La Rock
The warehouse building, with the Haring mural concealed, was slated for either redevelopment or demolition. Enter Dutch artist Aileen Esther Middel, known as Mick La Rock, one of the world’s first and most well known female graffiti artists. Middel was a huge Keith Haring fan, and wondered what had happened to the mural. About four years ago, Middel did some research at the Stedelijk Museum library and discovered that the mural had been covered up and remained intact.
Her persistence and perseverance, along with the help of the Keith Haring Foundation, led to the creation of an initiative called Save Our Haring. Four years of working with the Foundation, the local municipal government, gallery owner Olivier Varossieau, the building’s owner and real estate developers, the mural was finally uncovered on June 18. Middel is continuing her work with the initiative to find the best way to preserve the mural.
Haring Did Disco
A Keith Haring mural is part of an exhibit at The Vitra Design Museum, in Weil am Rhein, Germany, called Night Fever. Designing Club Culture 1960 – Today. The mural was created at the Palladium in New York, a long standing nightclub that was established in 1927. The club evolved from a venue for ballroom dancing, latin and disco, and was finally demolished in 1997.
When it was reopened as a nightclub hot spot in 1985, Japanese architect Arata Isozaki designed a neon dance floor with a giant Keith Haring mural on one wall. Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francesco Clemente and Kenny Scharf also created murals for the Palladium. The exhibit looks at the art, design, furniture and culture of nightclubs around the world. If you’re lucky enough to be traveling through Germany this summer, the exhibit runs through September 9.
Keith Haring at VFA
Keith Haring produced masterful works, not only in paintings and murals, but prints and pottery, as well. He often worked in series, like the Chocolate Buddha and Growing series. Please contact us if you would like more information about the work of Keith Haring available at VFA.