June 6, 2023
In her research log, India Jeffes leads us through the history and conservation of one of Keith Haring’s largest works. Titled Amsterdam Notes, this 38-meter drawing was created by Haring on-site at the Stedelijk Museum in 1986. As it has only been exhibited twice before, Jeffes leads us through the difficult yet collaborative efforts that brought about its restoration and installation.
Keith Haring’s Amsterdam Notes will be on display at our Hall of Honor (the IMC Gallery) from 25 May to 5 November, 2023.
The 38-meter-long drawing Amsterdam Notes is one of three large-scale works that Keith Haring created for the Stedelijk Museum as part of his solo show in 1986. Using high-quality sumi ink and paintbrushes to spontaneously craft the piece, Haring painted directly onto paper affixed to the walls of the Stedelijk’s print room, an exhibition space for paper-based works that no longer exists.1 In its totality Amsterdam Notes gives the impression of a mural despite inherently being a more mobile and fragile artwork. Since it entered the museum’s permanent collection, Amsterdam Notes has only been displayed on one other occasion, over 30 years ago in 1992. Displaying the work again now, in 2023, has required a great deal of creative problem solving behind the scenes, as the project has presented a series of complex technical challenges.
Amsterdam Notes presented in the pre-renovation Gallery of Honor, December 1992. Photo: Archive Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Amsterdam Notes © Keith Haring Foundation.
Keith Haring drawing Amsterdam Notes in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, March 1986. Photo: Rob Bogaerts, Nationaal Archief / Anefo. Amsterdam Notes © Keith Haring Foundation.
Close-up photograph of the second section of Amsterdam Notes. The texture of the lines, the paint drips, staple holes, and cloth hinges (added retrospectively for the 1992 installation) are clearly visible. Photo: Rik Klein Gotink. Archive Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Amsterdam Notes © Keith Haring Foundation.
Unrolling the work for the condition report, 2022. Photo: Femke Segers. Amsterdam Notes © Keith Haring Foundation.
The installation of Amsterdam Notes in the Erezaal, May 2023. Photo: India Jeffes. Amsterdam Notes © Keith Haring Foundation.
About the Author
India Jeffes is a student in the MA Museum Studies program at the University of Amsterdam, with previous academic experience in History and Political Science. As an intern for the Curatorial and Research department at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam she has worked on various ongoing projects including the presentation of Keith Haring’s Amsterdam Notes in the IMC Gallery.
 Photographs of the making of Amsterdam Notes and materials used can be viewed here. This file is included as a research reference, please contact the Haring Foundation for further access and use of these images. Photos: Tseng Kwong Chi, © 1986 Muna Tseng Dance Projects, Inc., New York. Amsterdam Notes, 1986 © Keith Haring Foundation.
 Excerpt from the original transcript of John Gruen’s interviews with Keith Haring conducted in 1989 for Keith Haring: The Authorized Biography (1991). Quoted in Jeffrey Deitch’s 2014 monograph Keith Haring, p. 378.