Eric Firestone Gallery opens its doors to FUTURA2000 | FUTURA 2020, the renowned American artists first solo exhibition in New York City in over thirty-years. Beginning artistic life in the world of illegal street art in the early 1970s, some of these very talented artists continued forward into legal public spaces ~ parks and commercial buildings, galleries, streetwear, and even museums. Leonard Hilton McGurr (c.1955) aka FUTURA2000, was among this elite group that moved from illegal to highly sought-after ~ creating artwork with a contemporary message ~ political, social, personal. Many of these artists are familiar to all of us and include the likes of Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Kenny Scharf to name just a few.
Eric Firestone … “My gallery has focused on artists and work that deserve closer examination. 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.” Eric Firestone Gallery recently announced the representation of FUTURA2000.
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.
In this exhibition, 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.
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.
He has collaborated with many brands including Supreme, A Bathing Ape, Nike, BMW, Louis Vuitton, Off-White, and most recently, Comme des Garçons. In November 2020 Rizzoli will release Futura: The Artist’s Monograph, an in-depth and comprehensive survey, with writings by Takashi Murakami, Virgil Abloh, Agnès b and Jeffrey Dietch.
This year, he designed in collaboration with BMW a bespoke series of vehicles that were shown at Frieze L.A. 2020 ~ also this year, a pair of Nike sneakers that he designed (the Leonard Hilton McGurr Futura Nike Dunk High Pro SB ‘FLOM) sold at auction for $63,000!
The exhibition will be on view from October 22 through December 23, 2020 at Eric Firestone Gallery’s new ground-floor location at 40 Great Jones Street, NYC
Follow #futura2000 on Instagram.
More on Street Artists’ stepping in the light, John CRASH Matos at MCNY in 2018. On the walls, Graffiti in the Sky and The Mural Project are two projects we return to often; In the gallery, check out Doze Green at Allouche Gallery in 2019 and Jean-Michel Basquiat at The Guggenheim in 2019; Studio in the Street at The National Arts Club; Streetart In public places like Keith Haring’s mural, Crack is Wack, in East Harlem; The Bowery Wall, and Beyond the Streets, featuring over 150 artists including oversized sculptures by FUTURA2000, and Al Diaz/SAMO at Same Old Gallery in 2018. Check out the many lives of the historic Germania Bank Building, now home to Supreme at 190 Bowery.