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Artists mobilizing to help restore the only monumental outdoor work by Keith Haring in France
Keith Haring, Pop Shop Quad II, 1988, est. 10.000/25.000 €© Sotheby’s/ArtDigital Studio.

PARIS.- Jérôme de Noirmont and the Keith Haring Foundation in New York and in co-operation with Sotheby’s, and in association with Necker Children’s Hospital (APHP) are to stage a Charity Auction in aid of the mural offered by Keith Haring to Necker Children’s Hospital in Paris in 1987.

This monumental work of art was painted on the outer walls of the concrete fire-exit of the Child Surgery Clinic. But, due to the effects of the weather and the ravages of time, the structure is deteriorating. The concrete on which the paint was applied is crumbling and cracking, endangering the work’s long-term survival.

26 international artists (or their heirs) have donated 32 works for a special auction to help restore the mural – a symbol of Keith Haring’s generosity, and his love for children and Paris. Donors include the artist’s friends, and those keen to support children’s causes and the preservation of open-air works.

The works to be offered include Untitled (Ringed Figure), a Keith Haring sculpture from 1987 (estimate: €60,000-120,000/$78.200- 156.400 - illustration opposite); a 1984 Robert Mapplethorpe portrait of Keith Haring (est. €5,000-10,000 / $6.500-13.000); a 1990 Herb Ritts portrait of Madonna (est. €2,500-5,500 / $3.250-7.200); a work on paper by George Condo, Young Girl, from 2012 (est. €12,000-24,000 / $15.600- 31.300); a 2001 Golfer by Niki de Saint-Phalle (est. €8,000-15,000 / $10.400-19.500); and Monkey Train (Orange), a 2007 silk-screen by Jeff Koons (est. €15,000-35,000 -$19.500/45.600).

Auctioneer Cécile Verdier will be joined by French TV personality Alexandra Golovanoff, the charismatic presenter of La Mode La Mode La Mode on Paris Première and herself an artist and connoisseur of contemporary art. Alexandra Golovanoff has already contributed to the safeguard of Keith Haring’s work by donating the proceeds from her March 2012 exhibition at Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont to Necker Children’s Hospital (AP-HP) to help restore the mural.

Guillaume Cerutti, Président-directeur général of Sotheby’s France, declares that ‘Sotheby’s is particularly happy to be associated with the initiative of Jérôme de Noirmont and the Haring Foundation. It is by no means the first time Sotheby’s have participated in such an act of generosity, but this charity auction has a special dimension due to all the symbols involved. We did not hesitate for a second about adding our support to a project based totally on such a rare, precious commodity: generosity. We have here the generosity of the artist who made this exceptional and magnificent work, the generosity of the donors, the generosity of all the partners supporting the project… and, I hope, the generosity of all those who will be bidding at auction!’

All the auction proceeds will go to the Necker Children’s Hospital (AP-HP) in Paris, and be set aside exclusively for restoring the mural. Sotheby’s is offering its support by staging the sale free of charge and waiving buyer’s and vendor’s premiums.

Artist Kenny Scharf promised Keith Haring ‘that his art would not just remain alive, but would become even more alive with the passing of time. I am very proud to be involved in safeguarding the heritage of this great artist and to keep my promise to a sincere and much lamented friend’ (Los Angeles, 9 July 2012).

George Condo was living in Paris at the time, and remembers the mural well: ‘Keith came to my studio as he needed some really large brushes. My brother-in-law Patrick and I helped him fix long brushes to the end of broom handles so that he could paint the huge lines he was planning. We used to hang out together all the time, so I went to see him painting up on the scaffolding. He seemed really happy. He began by painting areas of primary colour before adding his hallmark black outlines on top of these bright colours, as we see today. Keith wanted to make the hospital less scary for children. He stoked joy and surprise, to help calm their worries. And he did the same for us throughout his life!’ (New York, 18 September 2012).

To François Boisrond, who first met Keith Haring during a common project at Le Mans in 1984: ‘I went to Necker Children’s Hospital to see Keith working on his fresco. He was hoisted up, then set to work without any underdrawing or outline on the huge surface. He was impressively calm and determined, and only needed a few hours to finish the job.’

The charity auction is part of an important project of architectural restructuring that will see the fire escape transformed into a monumental sculpture: a 90-foot totem in the centre of a two-and-a-half acre garden inside the new hospital complex. It will be a focal point for patients, their families and hospital staff, as well as for visitors and local residents.

Since 1987, Haring’s mural has brought joy and hope to the young patients at Necker Children’s Hospital (AP-HP), as well as to their relatives and hospital staff. Haring explained that ‘nothing makes me happier than making a child smile. That’s why a baby became my signature logo. It is the purest and most positive human experience. Children embody life at its most joyful.’

Haring’s mural, with its moving silhouettes full of energy, hope and zest for life, is a symbol of Life itself, given all the more meaning in that he chose to create it in the heart of the world’s first pediatric hospital, founded in 1802.

To Serge Morel, Director of Necker Children’s Hospital (Ap-HP): ‘Although hospitals are increasingly seen as very hi-tec sort of places, they are above all very human places. The quality of care is not limited to technology, but involves caring for the patient in every sense. The presence of art and culture underlines the importance of the hospital’s human dimension. Keith Haring was a pioneer in opening up this essential approach. By coming here himself, and being hoisted up to produce his monumental painting, with all the difficulties that involved, and by donating his work to the Hospital, he left a veritable mark and a powerful presence – one that has become part of the Hospital’s everyday life.’

To Will Shank, who carried out the study for the work’s restoration: ‘Climatic variations have no mercy when it comes to preserving outdoor murals. Since Keith Haring produced the painting on the tower of Necker Children’s Hospital, a number of black lines have deteriorated, even sinking into the concrete in places. Renovation of the hospital, and defining a new architectural project, have made it possible to enhance this unique work by placing it in the middle of a new garden, like a totem-pole. The result will be sublime.’

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