Keith Haring’s mural in Barcelona declared National Cultural Asset

Famous American artist painted 'Acid' during his visit to the Catalan capital in 1989

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Picture by Catalan Ministry of Culture
VilaWeb / Catalan News Agency
24.05.2022 - 11:15
Actualització: 13.06.2022 - 10:05

The Catalan government has declared Keith Haring’s mural Acid, located on Atenes Street in Barcelona, a Cultural Asset of National Interest. The mural was painted in February 1989, during Haring’s visit to Barcelona at the invitation of the famous Catalan chef Montse Guillén. During his week-long stay, the artist went clubbing every night at the Ars Studio, attracted to the trendy venue of the time by the house music of DJ César de Melero. On the last day before he left, as a token of gratitude, he painted Acid on the wall at the back of the DJ booth.

Born in Pennsylvania in 1958, Keith Haring was an iconic artist in the world of pop art and street art, emerging from the 1980s New York graffiti scene and producing art with a social and political resonance. Themes such as gay rights, safe sex, AIDS awareness and the anti-apartheid movement were favored subjects. He died of AIDS-related complications, aged 31, in February 1990, exactly one year on from his visit to Barcelona.

That visit came at a time when urban art was flourishing in the city, and Barcelona was a global hotspot for the scene. Notably, there is extensive photographic and video documentation showing how Haring painted Acid, proving that he was indeed the artist.

Maximum protection

The mural’s declaration as a Cultural Asset of National Interest came about through collaboration between Barcelona City Council and the Catalan government. It provides the work with the “maximum degree of protection” and prevents it from being “extracted and moved from its current location,” Sònia Hernández, Cultural Heritage director told the Catalan News Agency (ACN).

The building owners must take care of its conservation and preservation. If they want to sell it, they must inform the government, which would then have the right to remove the work and acquire it for the national collection.

Acid is the only surviving Haring mural in Barcelona done by his own hand. The famous piece in the square outside the MACBA museum is a restoration of a work which disappeared in the years after it was painted, before being painstakingly brought back to life by conservation experts.

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