News — 8 Apr 2020

At 27, the young Keith Haring travels to the Netherlands for his first solo museum exhibition, at the Stedelijk. Although little known at the time, the Dutch public soon falls in love with Haring and his work. However, art critics and the Amsterdam artworld are appalled, claiming that street art doesn’t belong on the walls of a museum. One of Haring’s earliest fans, journalist Chris Reinewald, chronicled the artist’s adventures in the new publication The Dutch Adventures of Keith Haring, published by Dutch Graffiti Library.

Keith Haring photographed on the evening before the opening of his solo at the Stedelijk Museum. Photo: Archief Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Keith Haring artwork © Keith Haring Foundation

In 1986, Wim Beeren, then director of the Stedelijk, offers Keith Haring his first big museum solo. Later, Haring noted: “... because it’s a major museum in Amsterdam, the show had phenomenal attendance. For me, it was an overwhelming experience, showing at the Stedelijk Museum. I felt I had really accomplished something.”

For his exhibition at the Stedelijk, Keith Haring didn’t simply want to show existing work, he also wanted to present something new. On one of the gallery floors, he spread out a huge canvas measuring 12 by 20 metres and, using cans of spray paint, created a work in a single day. As hip-hop played on a boombox in the background, he painted rapidly and rhythmically, turning the event into a high-energy performance, witnessed by a group of photographers and journalists, one of whom was Chris Reinewald. The work was to become one of the gems of the Stedelijk collection, and often reappears as a canopy above the historic staircase.

Keith Haring mural, 1986. Photo Hanna Hachula. Artwork © Keith Haring Foundation

Keith Haring also explored the streets of the city in the company of young graffiti artists like Niels Shoe Meulman and Jan Rothuizen, and got to know the urban art scene of Amsterdam in the mid-1980s. And although he was excited to have a museum show, Haring wanted to leave another lasting artwork in Amsterdam. Working from a hydraulic platform, in the space of a day he painted a ‘sea monster’ mural on the side of former Stedelijk art depot on the site of Centrale Markthallen complex on the Jan van Galenstraat. The artwork is Haring’s second-largest surviving public artwork in Europe, and is currently undergoing restoration.

The book The Dutch Adventures of Keith Haring offers a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of Haring’s stay in the Netherlands with anecdotes, photos from the Stedelijk archives and previously unpublished art by Haring and the Dutch street art scene of the ’80s. The publication is an intimate portrait of a gutsy graffiti artist who, after many exploits in the Netherlands, rises to world fame.

The Dutch Adventures of Keith Haring
Amsterdam Notes
First edition with 750 copies
128 pages, English.
On sale on 3 April, price €19.95 via

For photos and a copy to review you can reach out to:
Dutch Graffiti Library
Richard van Tiggelen

For more information contact the Press Office of het Stedelijk Museum, 020 573 2660 / 656 or