Historic Graffiti Exhibit Opens in NYC

“City as Canvas” includes works by Keith Haring, Lee Quinones and more.

Legendary rapper Nas' 1992 opus Illmatic opens with dialogue from the 1983 film Wild Style, where a young graffiti artist, Lee Quinones, is being admonished for his nighttime artistry — spray painting subway cars. Fortunately, we’ve come a long way since then and graffiti is no longer dismissed as a mere criminal act. Instead, it's high art. This is evidenced by the current exhibition on display at the Museum of New York City, "City as Canvas: Grafitti Art from the Martin Wong Collection."

This is the first time that Martin Wong’s treasures as both an artist and collector have been exhibited since he donated his vast collection to the museum after his death in 1994. With more than 150 pieces, including: historical photography, a tag collection, black books, large scale acrylics and mixed media works from artists like Keith Haring, Lee Quinones, Futura 2000 and a short film, Graff Obsession, by Wild Style director Charlie Ahearn, this is a must-see show for all lovers and purveyors of hip hop. 

“City as Canvas” is on display through August 24. And to learn more about one of the show’s featured artists, Lee Quinones, check out our exclusive interview with him as part of our The Artist’s Way series. 

(Photo: AP Photo/Museum of the City of New York)

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