You are here

LASCO PROJECT #11 Futura 2000 - « Violent treasure »

For his exhibition “Violent Treasure” on the windows of the Palais de Tokyo, Futura 2000 is deploying a cloud of corrosive, misty pigments, contaminating the art center’s architecture and setting off a radioactive flash that broadens the horizon. Then its vibrations of white, black, yellow and orange colors spread out in a play of chaotic expansion and overlapping, interspersed with vibrant lines and furtive ellipses.

At the end of the 1970s, the rise of graffiti in the New York subway shook up art history. At the time, this new pictorial fever, paced by the beats of Hip-Hop, resonated with the technological revolutions, the acceleration of the world and its traumas (the Vietnam War, the ghettos and racial tensions). As part of the second generation of US graffiti, Futura is a legend: his name (inspired in part from the Stanley Kubrick’s film “2001, A Space Odyssey”), his life and his painting have stood out as premises in the movement and in its evolutions during the digital age.

Always a multimedia visionary, and not wishing to be locked up in the past, as early as 2001 Futura anticipated: “The Web is really an extension of graffiti. The Web became a virtual wall that anyone was free to write on, however they wished. We’re all pirate radio, we’re all broadcasting live.”

Though known for his signature – a sequence of sharp, dynamic lines – Futura was soon to stop working with letters and turned towards abstraction. In the early 1980s, he produced the first totally abstract painting to cover the entirety of a subway car—most notably his iconic “Break” train. This shift to abstraction was above all marked by the artist’s military experience, after spending several years in the navy, on an aircraft carrier, because of an accident associated with graffiti. Fascinated by the kinetics of paintings activated by trains, but also by the power and speed of aircraft carriers and printed military fabrics, his abstract art could be seen as a «camouflage-painting.» But while the aim of camouflage is to create inv


Du 15/06/2020 au 03/01/2021

« There’s a side that’s good and there’s a side that’s bad
And on the inside graffiti’s always have
That individual desire which I guess I most admire
That need to bomb, to see things on fire »

Futura 2000

Futura 2000 is born in 1955. He lives and works in Brooklyn.

A pionneer when Graffiti met the studio and exhibition ecosystems, Futura 2000 (born Leonard Hilton McGurr) was known as early as the 1970s for his radical approach in the street, introducing abstraction to what was an entirely letter-based discipline. Entirely self-taught in what he calls “the subway school”, Futura 2000 soon started painting as much in the public space as in a studio. With his friends Kenny Scharf, Rammellzee, Dondi White, Keith Haring or else Jean Michel Basquiat, the artist participated in the upsurge of the “new wave” of underground New York painters, to cite the title of the historic exhibition that brought them together in 1981 at the Ps1, “New York / New Wave”. Since then, the artist has exhibited in a large number of galleries and international institutions (Fun Gallery, Tony Shafrazi, Yvon Lambert, the galerie du jour agnès b., the Galerie De Noirmont, MoMA PS.1, New Museum and the MoCA in Los Angeles). He has also recently worked with Kaikai Kiki Gallery (Tokyo), founded by Takashi Murakami, on print editions, art fair presentations, and gallery exhibitions. His work is currently on show as part of the exhibition “Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip Hop Generation”, at the Museum of Fine Art, Boston (April - August 2020).

As a historical actor in the Hip-Hop movement, Futura has painted as an accompaniment to demonstrations of break dance by the Rock Steady Crew, to concerts by Grand Master Flash and Afrika Bombataa, as well as on the European tour of the Clash in 1981, with whom he recorded the vinyl “The Escapades of Futura 2000”, a manifesto for graffiti. Futura has also created the legendary album covers for U.N.K.L.E., the outfit of James Lavelle, the founder of the Mo’Wax record label. He has also designed tour merchandise for The Weeknd.

As a popular icon, the artist has also founded Futura Laboratories, a design studio and commercial product engine, that enables him to work with brands, as a means to invade the public space in a different way. He has, for example, produced several large-scale collections and DJ performance visuals for Virgil Abloh (Off White, Louis Vuitton), Nike, Lévi’s, BMW, and Comme des Garçons.