The Futura is now: Pioneering New York street artist is finally getting his dues
June 7, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.
Compression ratio: 18.7%. 1 min read.
Futura emerged through New York's graffiti scene alongside Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, before growing disillusioned with the art world. Now, aged 65, he's arguably more relevant than ever.
In the early 1980s, Leonard McGurr's name was often uttered in the same breath as those of his artist friends Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring.
Known then as Futura 2000, he was a rising star of New York's graffiti scene, his celebrated subway murals bridging the gap between graphic street art and abstraction.
I was a token in their world," McGurr says of the institutions he felt were pigeonholing his work.
McGurr may be old enough to have fathered two millennials, but he also epitomizes the zeitgeist of new, younger generations of art collectors.
When it comes to limited edition collectibles, a lucrative industry for contemporary art heavyweights like Yayoi Kusama and KAWS, McGurr is an old hand, too.
After breaking onto New York's underground graffiti scene in the '70s, it was his 1980 "Break" mural that earned McGurr wider recognition.
But, McGurr says, "it wasn't premeditated. "
With Basquiat the undisputed star of New York's recent spring auctions (his 1983 painting "In This Case" sold at Christie's for $93. 1 million), there appears to be growing institutional intrigue about an era directly responsible for many of today's art stars, from Banksy and JR to Shepard Fairey and Osgemeos.
"The story that we were telling, way prematurely to its acceptance, is all coming back," McGurr says.
"I have too many options to let myself get manipulated now," McGurr says.