Museum Spotlight: Writing the Future | Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation

10 May 2021 • 5:00 PM EST • New York

Tune in to a Sotheby’s Talks webinar, in partnership with LOEWE, for a virtual discussion with artists Fab 5 Freddy, Futura, Lee Quiñones and Lady Pink, moderated by curator Liz Munsell and honoring the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s landmark exhibition Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation.

Meet the Panelists

Liz Munsell

Liz Munsell is Curator of Contemporary Art at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston, where she has organized dozens of exhibitions and new commissions with emerging and overlooked artists. She established the MFA’s first performance art program and has worked to bring increased diversity to the Museum’s collections, exhibitions, and programs. Between 2012-17, Munsell held a visiting curator post at Harvard University’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. She is currently a member of the board of advisors to the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO). Her writings have been published in print and online publications such as MoMA’s Post: Notes on Modern and Contemporary Art around the Globe and ArtForum.com.

Munsell’s latest projects include Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation, MFA, Boston and originally destined for the Pérez Art Museum Miami (2020-21), co-curated with Greg Tate; Cecilia Vicuña: Disappeared Quipu at Brooklyn Museum and MFA, Boston (2018-19), co-curated with Catherine Morris; Annette Lemeiux: Mise en Scène (2017-18) and Pablo Helguera’s Club Americano at MFA, Boston (2017); and Embodied Absence: Chilean Art of the 1970s Now at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (2016-17) and Museo de la Solidaridad, Santiago, Chile (2015-16). Her writings have been published in print and online publications such as MoMA’s Post: Notes on Modern and Contemporary Art around the Globe and ArtForum.com.

Fab 5 Freddy

Fab 5 Freddy was born in 1959 in Brooklyn and emerged in the late 1970s as a New York City graffiti artist who became one of the first to exhibit his paintings internationally. Along with friends and contemporaries, Futura 2000, Keith Haring, Lee Quinones and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Fab was a key player in New York’s 1980s downtown cultural scene and instrumental in elevating graffiti into a disruptive movement that would eventually give birth to street art. In addition to his visual art, Fab co-produced, starred in and composed the music for the cult classic film Wild Style and went on to direct music videos for numerous hip hop stars like Snoop, Nas, Queen Latifah and others. From the late 1980s into the mid 90s he was the original host of YO! MTV Raps, the ground-breaking TV show that took hip hop culture global. Today he continues to make visual art and produce and direct projects for film and television. His recent film is a feature-length documentary he produced and directed for Netflix titled, Grass is Greener which was released globally in 2019. The film examines the history of cannabis, music and criminal justice in America and to date it has been viewed more than 30 million times. His art is currently on exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in the show titled Writing the Future: Basquiat & The Hip-Hop Generation.

Futura

FUTURA2000, born in 1955 in 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.

In recent years FUTURA2000 has created collaborative works with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, and 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. His work is included in the 2020 exhibition Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation, at the Museum of Fine Arts, 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 released Futura: The Artist’s Monograph, an in-depth and comprehensive survey, with writings by Takashi Murakami, Virgil Abloh, Agnès b and Jeffrey Deitch.

Lee Quiñones

Lee Quiñones a.k.a. LEE was born in 1960 in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Raised in the Alfred E. Smith Houses project on the Lower East Side, Lee came to be called the “King of New York” by fellow graffiti artists for his evocative moralizing murals and whole car protest pieces. Together with his friend and collaborator Fab 5 Freddy, Lee headlined the first exhibition of graffiti art outside the United States, The Fabulous Five, in late 1979 at Rome’s Galleria La Medusa. While participating in one-man and group exhibitions in New York and Europe in the early 1980s, Lee also became the face of graffiti art in popular films: he starred in Charlie Ahearn’s Wild Style (1983), which sparked a global mania for hip-hop culture; provided signature art for the sets of Susan Seidelman’s Smithereens (1982) and Desperately Seeking Susan (1985); and designed and painted the backdrops for the 1981 music video for Blondie’s “Rapture.” In the 1990s, Lee’s canvases became more methodical and detailed as he incorporated marker and acrylic paint to create sharper details. Based in Brooklyn, Lee continues to paint and exhibit in Europe, Asia and North America.

Lady Pink

Lady Pink was born in Ecuador, raised in NYC and currently resides in the countryside north of the city. In 1979 she started writing graffiti and soon was well known as the only female capable of competing with the boys in the graffiti subculture. Pink painted subway trains from the years 1979–85. In 1982 she had a starring role in the motion picture Wild Style. That role and her other significant contributions to graffiti have made her a cult figure in the hip-hop subculture.

While still in high school she was already exhibiting paintings in art galleries, and at the age of 21 had her first solo show at the Moore College of Art. As a leading participant in the rise of graffiti-based art, Lady Pink's canvases have entered important art collections such as those of the Whitney Museum, the MET in New York City, the Brooklyn Museum and the Groningen Museum of Holland. She has established herself in the fine arts world, and her paintings are highly prized by collectors.

Today, Lady Pink continues to create new paintings on canvas that express her unique personal vision. She also shares her 30 years of experience with teens by holding mural workshops and actively lecturing to college students throughout the world.


Discover the Genius of Jean-Michel Basquiat

Header Photo Credit: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Hollywood Africans (detail), 1983. Acrylic and oil paintstick on canvas. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Gift of Douglas S. Cramer. © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York.

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