In 1986, NYC artist Keith Haring was commissioned to create a few drawings for the patients of the Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital. The story goes that Haring visited three times and ran room to room with a marker and notepad and drew for numerous patients. On his third and final visit, Haring asked if he could paint a mural on the second floor of the children’s wing.
With the hospital’s blessing, he immediately began drawing on the hospital’s wallpaper. Patients filed out of their rooms to watch his animated painting process and listen to him as he chatted with them about art. The result? A 15-foot-wide mural with a two-headed dog and five pairs of sneakers. On the lower left of the mural, is a child (to represent all the children at the hospital). There’s also a caterpillar and another bendable creature riding along the top of the two-headed dog.
“Hospitalization and illness can be traumatic for children, adolescents and families,” said Diane Rode, Senior Director, Patient and Family Centered Care, the Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital. “In his visits to Mount Sinai’s young patients, Keith Haring showed us the direct power and place of art, play, and imagination in humanizing healthcare. In this dynamic work, which he created with children in wheelchairs looking on, the artist shares his great empathy, energy, and sense of hope. This work uniquely captures the spirit of Keith Haring, his commitment to touching the lives of children and families, and to the powerful intention of his visits to Mount Sinai—to spark optimism, creativity, and community.”
In 1989, the building was torn down to make way for the Guggenheim Pavilion, which now serves as The Mount Sinai Hospital’s main campus. Luckily, the mural was saved and preserved in storage for over 30 years. It hasn’t been viewed publicly until now.
The “Mural for The Mount Sinai Hospital, New York” will be going to auction at Sotheby’s with an estimate of $500,000-700,000 on November 17, but it’ll be on view at Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries now through November 16. When it is sold, a portion of the proceeds from the sale will benefit the innovative programs and clinical care offered by Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital and Mount Sinai Children’s Health.
“Keith Haring is among the most important and beloved artists to have emerged from the downtown New York art scene of the 1980s, alongside peers such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kenny Scharf, George Condo, Julian Schnabel, and many others,” said Nicole Schloss, Sotheby’s Head of Contemporary Art Day Auction, New York. “While Haring’s unique, illustrative style continues to resonate with art lovers around the world, it is perhaps in his large-scale public murals that Haring’s deeply empathetic vision as an artist is most clearly articulated. As a firm believer in the social power of art, Haring’s public works, especially his murals in hospitals, showcase not only his compassion and humanity, but also his conviction in ways in which art can enrich and heal.”