Join Futura, Lee Quiñones, and PAMM Director Franklin Sirmans in a digital talk as they share stories and insights on New York’s art world, past and present. To commemorate Futura’s latest book "Futura-isms," published by Princeton University Press in association with No More Rulers, Futura speaks with one of his most respected peers and longtime friend Lee Quiñones on growing up in New York’s seminal art movement of the 1980s. The graffiti icons and legendary artists reflect on their longstanding friendship and their processes in their street and studio practice. Artists who have both pioneered cross-disciplinary practices in their own way, Lee Quiñones and Futura reflect on their own evolving identities as artists, and what it means to be a cross-boundary creator today.
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Pioneering artist Futura 2000 (born Leonard Hilton McGurr) was known as early as the 1970s for his radical approach to graffiti; his methods introduced abstraction to what was previously an entirely letter-based discipline. His work on canvas established him as a leading voice within the wider art movement of the 1980s that also included Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and Kenny Scharf among its ranks.
Entirely self-taught in what he calls "the subway school," Futura's work is now articulated across canvas, paper, sculpture, photography, graphic design, and large-scale mural work, widely lauded for kinetic composition, elemental quality, and fully-original gestures.
His work has been exhibited at numerous art institutions, including the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles, MoMA PS1 in New York, as well as the New Museum and the seminal Fun Gallery in New York. As an artist with a dedicated commercial practice and product brand through Futura Laboratories, Futura has collaborated with Louis Vuitton, Comme des Garçons, Chanel, Nike, Off-White, and Levi's; he has also designed iconic album packaging for musicians such as The Clash, and DJ performance visuals for Virgil Abloh.
One of the most influential artists to emerge from the New York City subway art movement in the 1980s, Lee Quiñones is now celebrated in both the realms of contemporary art and of popular culture for his provocative, sociopolitical works and intricate composition. Born 1960 in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and raised in New York City's Lower East Side, Quiñones began painting on New York City's streets and subway cars in 1974. He would go on to paint over 125 subway cars throughout the MTA system before shifting to a studio-based practice.
Quiñones has had a plethora of solo shows and international exhibitions since then, beginning with the Galleria Medusa in Rome, 1979. His milestone first New York show in 1980 at White Columns saw spray paint transition from public fixtures, to canvas in a gallery setting.
Quiñones' works have featured in more recent years at institutions such as the New Museum of Contemporary Art, MoMA, and MFA Boston, in addition to solo shows at the likes of MoMA PS1, the Fun Gallery, Barbara Gladstone, Galerie Rudolf Zwirner, and Lisson Gallery. Quiñones' paintings are housed in permanent museum collections, some of which include the Whitney Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Blanton Museum at the University of Texas, and the Pérez Art Museum Miami. Lee Quiñones currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.