Eric Firestone Gallery has secured North American representation of FUTURA2000. Born Leonard Hilton McGurr in New York City, FUTURA2000 is a graffiti pioneer who began painting subway cars in the late 1970s before focusing on art. The gallery will present his first exhibition at its new ground-floor location at 40 Great Jones Street in New York.
“Futura 2020,” a presentation of new work, is on view now through December 23. It marks the artist’s first solo gallery show in New York City in over 30 years.
As one of the most celebrated artists emerging from the world of graffiti and street art, FUTURA2000 was first recognized for bringing abstract painting to the genre.
The artist’s work bears his interest in a futuristic aesthetic. Long fascinated by science fiction and the space age, he was an early adopter to sophisticated computer technology and video gaming. His painting motifs relate to these interests and often are cosmic panoramas, abstract compositions that master color, movement and line.
FUTURA2000 employs spray paint with virtuoso precision, creating a thin, refined line, contrasted by larger mists of color areas, and gestural brush marks. By leaving large areas of his canvases open, and allowing the forms to float across the surface, FUTURA2000 suggests access to a cosmic space. His recurring motifs include an atom shape, denoting perpetual motion; a crane or a linear mark signifying a break or rupture; and the Pointman: an alien, robotic figure.
Twenty new paintings in the show are made with raw unprimed canvas in an elegant, subdued palette. Earthy tones of black, umber, gray and white are punctuated with unexpected shimmers of gold or bursts of color. Larger works are compositions of FUTURA2000’s sprayed atoms, framed within a defined space. Smaller square canvases in the same somber palette solely utilize brushwork. Another group is distinctly contracted with brighter colors or darker grounds, tracing forms that pull the viewers’ eye off the edges of the canvas in a dynamic, open composition.
“My gallery has focused on artists and work that deserve closer examination,” Eric Firestone said. “I’ve long been a fan of FUTURA2000 — he is truly a brilliant artist. While so many people know his name solely from the context of graffiti, he deserves recognition in the greater canon of important American artists. I am looking forward to sharing FUTURA2000’s work with a wider audience in the US, through shows, art fairs, and placing his art with institutions, where it belongs.”
FUTURA2000 (b. 1955, New York) was among the first graffiti artists to be shown in contemporary art galleries in the early 1980s. His paintings were shown in the historic Times Square show of 1980, at Patti Astor’s Fun Gallery and at Tony Shafrazi Gallery, alongside those of his friends Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Rammellzee, and Kenny Scharf. MoMA PS1 brought the artists together in its landmark 1981 exhibition, “New York / New Wave.”
He went on to collaborate with the punk band The Clash, designing their album art and performing live graffiti during their concerts.
In recent years he created collaborative works with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, and he has exhibited at Kaikai KiKi, Gallery in Tokyo. His work has been shown at The New Museum, New York; MoCA, Los Angeles; the Groninger Museum, the Netherlands; and Yvon Lambert, Galerie De Noirmont, and the galerie du jour agnès b., Paris. He was the subject of a 2019 exhibition at Urban Spree Gallery in Berlin; and a large site-specific installation in 2020 at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. His work is included in the 2020 exhibition “Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip Hop Generation,” at the Museum of Fine Art, Boston.