Blade /   Steven Ogburn

United States 1957

Street Art, Graffiti, Painting

Steven Ogburn
United States
May 30, 2016

The early 1970s saw the emergence and flourishing of several important subcultures, including the punk rock culture, the hip-hop movement and, of course, the graffiti movement. One of the artist who shaped the graffiti we know and love today is Steven D. Ogburn, better known as Blade, a famed New York-based street artist and a proud owner of the title King of Graffiti since he painted over five thousand trains with his striking characters. Famous for his whole cars, he became an icon of the New York City and a hero-figure for the younger generation of street artists. Today he exhibits his work internationally.

Blade - Funk Through Funky, 1992
Blade – Funk Through Funky, 1992

The King of Graffiti

Born on January 23rd, 1957, Blade began writing on the trains in NYC in 1972, when Hondo 1 took him to Baychester layup in the Bronx to paint his first train. At that time, he was only 15 years old. Subsequently, he befriended with such creatives as Fresco, Dr. Sex, Chino1, and Camaro 170 and became one of the most prolific street artists of his generation creating over five thousand pieces throughout the Big Apple in a decade between 1972 and 1982. In that time, there were no other graffiti influences, so he developed his own personal style composed of characters, letters, colors and abstract imagery. His images were not political but more personality focused. The trains were his diary.

Blade developed his own personal style composed of characters, letters, colors and abstract imagery

Blade - graffiti, photo by Martha Cooper
Blade – graffiti, photo by Martha Cooper

From Streets to Galleries

After he had spent countless hours in front of trains transforming them into the canvases for his work, Blade stopped painting them in 1984 as he felt that he had nothing more to prove. Additionally, he began working in other media including spray paint, markers, and acrylic on canvas, producing artworks suitable for indoor exhibitions that have brought him worldwide recognition. Since 1981 when he had his first one-man exhibition in Europe, Blade has participated in many individual and collective shows in notable venues, such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland; the Musée national des Monuments Français, Paris; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles; the Groninger Museum in the city of Groningen in the Netherlands, and many others.

The King of Graffiti stopped painting trains in 1984 and devoted himself to gallery works

Blade - Just Walking With My Thoughts
Blade – Just Walking With My Thoughts

Blade’s Incredible Imagination

Blade is credited with developing several classic graffiti styles, such as overlapping 3D letters and Blockbuster Letters – which straight down covered the whole train, created in 1977. His talent is based on the originality of his letterings and his incredibly imaginative forms. Playing with perspective and abstract geometric forms, Blade hasn’t hesitated to move away from the pure, original form of graffiti. His best street art pieces are documented in the book titled Subway Art, while a graffiti artist Chris Pepe aka FREEDOM wrote a book on Blade entitled King of Graffiti in which the artist talks about his past and his amazing career.

The artist is represented by Galeria Varsi.

Blade lives and works in the Bronx.

Featured image: Blade – portrait
All images copyright of the artist

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumGroup/Solo
2015BladeFoggia & Manfredonia, ItalySolo
2015Fuck the King, Long Live the Kings, Blade, Inkie and ShoeVroom & Varossieau, AmsterdamGroup
2015BladeGothenburg, SwedenSolo
2014BladeMuseum of the City of New York, New YorkSolo
2014Group ShowJonathan Levine Gallery, New YorkGroup
2014BladeGalleria Varsi, Rome, ItalySolo
2013Viborg Billboard FestivalN B Gallerie, DenmarkGroup
2013BladeArticks Gallery, AmsterdamSolo
2012Group ShowGallery Speerstra, SwitzerlandGroup
2012BladeHelenbeck Gallery Nice, FranceSolo
2012BladeArt Basel via Adjust Gallery, Miami, FloridaSolo
2011Museum ShowMoCA – Museum of Contemporary Art, Los AngelesGroup
2011Group ShowArticks gallery, AmsterdamGroup
2011Group ShowGallerie HelenbeckGroup
2011Group ShowGallery Vlasblom, Bergen, AmsterdamGroup
2011Group ShowGallery Speerstra, SwitzerlandGroup
2011Martha Cooper & BladeCarmichael Gallery, Los AngelesSolo
2010BladeGismondi Galerie, ParisSolo
2009BladePinjenburg Gallery, AmsterdamSolo
2008BladeGalerie Gismondi and Helenbeck Galerie, ParisSolo
2008BladeHelenbeck Galerie, NiceSolo
2005Group ShowBrooklyn Library, Brooklyn, NYGroup
2005Old School LegendsThe Outside Institute, LondonGroup
2004Down Under TourAuckland, New ZealandGroup
2004Blade, Cope II, PistolAurora Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2004Group ShowMarco Art Galerie, New York, NYGroup
2004Down Under TourBrisbane, Melbourne, AustraliaGroup
2004BladeMarco Art Galerie, New York, NYSolo
2003Blade with Seen, Revolt, Chino and PistolMarco Art Galerie, New York, NYGroup
2002BladeMarco Art Galerie, New York, NYSolo
2000BladeWhitney Museum, New YorkSolo
2000BladeBrooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New YorkSolo
1999Group ShowBronx Museum, New YorkGroup
1998Stockholm FestivalStockholm, SwedenGroup
1998Group ShowMuseum der Stadt Ratingen, Ratingen, GermanyGroup
1998Blade – CaseMartinez Gallery, New YorkSolo
1997SymposiumMuseum of the City of New York, New YorkGroup
1997Wiesbaden FestivalWiesbaden, GermanyGroup
1996Group ShowGallerie City, Paris, FranceGroup
1996Drawings ShowSouth of FranceGroup
1996Group ShowThe Stedelijk Museum Roemond, Roemond, The NetherlandsGroup
1995Group ShowMuseum Dortmund, GermanyGroup
1995Group ShowGallerie Heidelberg, GermanyGroup
1995Group ShowBoyemans Museum, GermanyGroup
1995Dusseldorf FestivalDusseldorf, GermanyGroup
1994Group ShowCastle Helmond, The NederlandsGroup
1993Museum ShowRotterdam Museum, RotterdamGroup
1993Group ShowCity Gallerie, Brussels, BelgiumGroup
1993Group ShowMuseum Boymans, RotterdamGroup
1992Quik – BladeMannheimer Kunstverein, MannheimGroup
1992Quik – BladeThe Stedelijk Museum Helmond, Helmond, The NetherlandsGroup
1992Group ShowCity Gallery, Milan, ItalyGroup
1992Museum ShowGroninger Museum, GroningenGroup
1992Group ShowThe Mannheimer Kunstverein, Mannhein, GermanyGroup
1992Coming from the Subway – New York graffiti ArtGroninger Museum, GroningenGroup
1991Graffiti ArtMusee National des Monuments Francois, Paris, FranceGroup
1989The Art FoundationAcademicals Hospital Leiden, The NetherlandsGroup
1989Group ShowHeidelberger Kunstverein, Heidelberg, GermanyGroup
1989Group ShowNassauisher Kunstverein Weisbaden, GermanyGroup
1989BladeGalerie Yaki Kornblit, AmsterdamSolo
1988De Horizon VoorbijGemeente Museum, The NetherlandsGroup
1987Art ForumThomas Foundation, Munich, GermanyGroup
1986New York GraffitiLeopold-Hoesch Museum, DurenGroup
1986Group ShowGalerie Yaki Kornblit, AmsterdamGroup
1986Group ShowThe Stedelijk Museum Helmond, The NetherlandsGroup
1985New York GraffitiGemeente Museum, NederlandsGroup
1985BladeGalerie Yaki Kornblit, AmsterdamSolo
1985BladeStellweg - Seguy Gallery, New YorkSolo
1985BladeThe Stedelijk Museum Helmond, The NetherlandsSolo
1984GraffitiGroninger Museum, GroningenGroup
1984New York GraffitiLouisiana, HumleboekGroup
1984Zeitgenossische KunstGalerie Thomase, MunichGroup
1984BladeGalerie Yaki Kornblit, AmsterdamSolo
1983Post-GraffitiGalerie Sydney Janis, New YorkGroup
1983GraffitiMuseum Boymans-van Beuningen, RotterdamGroup
1983BladeGalerie Yaki Kornblit, AmsterdamSolo
1981New York - New WavePS1 Long Island City, New YorkGroup