murals, graffiti

CRASH /   John Matos

United States 1961

Graffiti, Painting

John Matos
United States
May 4, 2016

The seventies were an extremely interesting part of history. Amongst a number of social, political, and economic events that changed the way we perceive the world around us, the decade saw the growth of graffiti culture that began in New York City and brought fame to numerous highly talented artists. One of the artists who has been at the forefront of a new art movement is John Matos, better known as CRASH to graffiti lovers. CRASH stands as the representative of the first generation of graffiti artists, and though he deals with the imagery of comics, he gives it his own flavor and do it in his own unique style.

CRASH - Bronx, NY, 2009
CRASH – Bronx, NY, 2009

A Pioneer of Graffiti Movement

Born in 1961, in the Bronx, New York, Matos took his alias after he unintentionally crashed the computer in his high school. As a teenager growing up in the Bronx, CRASH grew up riding the subways in NYC and using sides of wagons as canvases. Working alongside other pioneering American Graffiti artists, such as Dondi White and Zephyr, CRASH’s bold, blocky signature graffiti on trains began to appear throughout the city. The first years of the 1980s were the turning point of his career when he started transitioning from trains to galleries.

In the beginning of the 1980s, CRASH began exhibiting his work in galleries

CRASH - Bowery Wall, Houston, 2013
CRASH – Bowery Wall, Houston, 2013

From Graffiti to Galleries

In October 1980, 19-year-old CRASH curated the pivotal exhibition entitled Graffiti Art Success for America at Fashion MODA in the South Bronx. The show, which included work by artists such as Futura 2000, Lady Pink, and John Fekner, was one of the first to allow the writers to paint directly on the walls and facade of the gallery. This groundbreaking exhibition has played a crucial part in legitimizing the graffiti movement. It opened up new possibilities for graffiti in a gallery setting connecting street artists and the downtown fine arts world, with CRASH as a pioneer.

CRASH - After Bradway Boogie Woogie, 2010 (Left) / Swingers, 2011 (Right)
CRASH – After Bradway Boogie Woogie, 2010 (Left) / Swingers, 2011 (Right)

Exhibitions and Collections

In the following years, CRASH started exhibiting his artworks across the US, as well as overseas. In 1983, he had solo show at Sidney Janis Gallery, and one year later, Crash had a breakthrough in France – alongside such legends as Robert Combas, François Boisrond, Hervé di Rosa, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Keith Haring, he participated at the exhibition named 5/5: Figuration Libre, France/USA at the Museum of Modern Art of Paris. Since then, his oeuvre has been exhibited in more than 150 shows in museums and galleries throughout the world. His work is included in such notable collections as the MoMA in New York and the Groningen Museum in the Netherlands. He has partnered with many companies for brand collaborations including Absolut Vodka, Levi’s, Ferrari and more. For Fender Musical Instruments, he painted guitar amps and famous “Crushocasters” guitars, played by such guitarists as Eric Clapton and John Mayer.

Matos’ work has been included in more than 150 shows throughout the world

CRASH - Wrapped in My Own Existence, 2013 (Left) / Clark Kent 1, 2012 (Right)
CRASH – Wrapped in My Own Existence, 2013 (Left) / Clark Kent 1, 2012 (Right)

Pop Art Graffiti

Over the years, CRASH has developed his own instantly recognizable style that fuses pop iconography and graffiti. His paintings – always realized with spray cans – seem to depict the modern world’s pure essence, revealing a pictorial inventory close to comics, letting explode colors and expressing the artist’s moods, feeling and thoughts. Often inspired by American artists Roy Lichtenstein and Tom Wesselmann, his imagery is filled with bright flashy colors and tightly cropped compositions. With four decades of experience in graffiti, CRASH remains recognized as one of the pioneers of the movements and legend of the Bronx whose work inspired a whole generation of young artists.

The artist is represented by Zimmerling & Jungfleisch in Saarbrücken, Germany, Gregg Shienbaum Fine Art, Miami, FL, Rosenbaum Contemporary, Boca Raton, Rosenbaum Contemporary, Bal Harbour, iDroom, Geneve, Galerie Brugier-Rigail, Paris, and Vroom & Varossieau in Amsterdam.

John CRASH Matos lives and works in the Bronx, NY.

All images © the artist

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016Glomorous GraffitiNassau County Museum of Art, New YorkGroup
2016Revisiting Movement: John CRASH Matos x Pro176Zimmerling & Jungfleisch Galerie, Saarbrucken, GermanyGroup
20151990 - ?Galerie At Down, Montpellier, FranceSolo
2015Broken EnglishJonathan LeVine Gallery, New YorkSolo
2014Breaking Ground: Redefining the Urban ExperienceJoAnne Artman Gallery, New YorkSolo
2014Crash: Broken EnglishJonathan Levine Gallery, New York Solo
2014Summer Group ShowFluegel-Roncak Gallery, NurembergGroup
2014FLOWDorian Grey GalleryGroup
2013Interieur RueGalerie WallworksGroup
2012Study in WatercolorsAddict Galerie, ParisSolo
2012Group exhibitAddict Galerie, ParisGroup
2012This Side of ParadiseNo Longer Empty (NLE), New York City, NYGroup
2012Bronx Night: Armory Week 2012Bronx River Art Center (BRAC), New York City, NYGroup
2012Remnant MemoriesToy Tokyo Underground, New York, NYGroup
2012Mural Installation, with TATS CRU and DAZEBronx, NYGroup
2012Mural InstallationLe M.U.R., Paris, FRGroup
2012The True essence of GraffitiGallery Speerstra - BursinsSolo
2012Street Artists Unite! Photo Bombing 4 Decades of Photos by Hank O'NealDorian Grey GalleryGroup
2012Group Graff: 30 years of Public DialogueDorian Grey GalleryGroup
2011Paintings With A Hidden AgendaAddict Galerie, ParisSolo
2011Addicts... D'art UrbainAddict Galerie, ParisGroup
2011The Street Art ShowOpera Gallery, London, UKGroup
2011GRAFFITI NEW YORK 80´sGalerie Jerome De NoirmontGroup
2011Blurring the LinesCorey Helford GalleryGroup
2010Tin MachinesAddict Galerie, ParisSolo
2010L'art Urbain... 2Addict Galerie, ParisGroup
2010From the 4 Train to Fenders: A RetrospectiveWalsh Art Gallery, Fairfield University, Fairfield, CTGroup
2010Small Gift MiamiWynwood Art DistrictGroup
2009Betances 1973-82Addict Galerie, ParisSolo
2009Unfinished BusinessJoshua Liner Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2009From Style Writing to Art (Part 2 - Shanghai)18Gallery Shanghai - Bund18, ShanghaiGroup
2009From Style Writing to artGalerie Magda Danysz, ParisGroup
2009Graffiti Group ShowAddict Galerie, ParisGroup
2009CRASHLos Angeles Art Show, FADA, Los Angeles, CASolo
2009CRASH/DAZEAdHoc Gallery, Brooklyn, NYGroup
2009CRASH by CRASHLa Galerie Helenbeck, Nice, FranceSolo
2009Whole in the WallLa Galerie Helenbeck, New York, NYGroup
2009Le TAG au Grand PalaisGrand PalaisGroup
2009tribal gatheringTribal CafeGroup
2008Exposition CollectiveAddict Galerie, ParisGroup
2008Locked & LoadedJoshua Liner Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2008CRASHLafayette College, Williams Art Gallery, Easton, PASolo
2008CRASH, The Art of the LineSpeerstra Gallery, Bursins, SwitzerlandSolo
2008CRASH & SharpGalerie Onega, Paris, FranceGroup
2007The Eclectic Eye - Selections of Fantasy and IllusionCAC - Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans, New Orleans, LAGroup
2007CRASHGalerie Onega, Paris, FranceSolo
2007CRASHArt Link International, West palm Beach, FLSolo
2007DCC Crashes MOCADMuseum of Contemporary Art-Detroit, Detroit, MIGroup
2007Kaleidoscope: Paintings, Prints and Works on PaperWooster Projects, New York, NYSolo
2007The Price of Nothing: Luxury After The Real Estate ShowEFA Project SpaceGroup
2006busy going crazy. the Sylvio Perlstein collectionLa Maison Rouge, ParisGroup
2006GraffitiBrooklyn Museum of Art, New York City, NYGroup
2006New York's OwnFuse Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2006CRASHLehmann/Leskiw Fine Arts, Toronto, CanadaSolo
2006The Lucky Strike DiariesSpeerstra Gallery, Bursins, SwitzerlandSolo
2006The Silkscreen Pieces, Lucky StrikeGalerie Speerstra, Paris, FranceGroup
2006Collision IIVisual Arts Space, SingaporeGroup
2006Collision IEsplanade Concourse, SingaporeGroup
2005Art and Illusion: Selections from the Frederick R. Weisman Art FoundationCarnegie Art Museum, Oxnard, CAGroup
2005Looking at WordsAndrea Rosen Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2005Collision I and IIThe Esplanade, SingaporeGroup
2005Second SkinStussy, JapanSolo
2005Dreamland Artist Club 2005Coney Island Boardwalk, Brooklyn, NYGroup
2005Second SkinWooster Projects, New York, NYSolo
2004Gezeichnet GraffitiKunsthalle Darmstadt, DarmstadtGroup
2004POP, BOOM, CRASHAnimation and Fine Arts Gallery, NCGroup
2004CRASH/HERVE DiROSA, CollaborationsGalerie Speerstra, ParisGroup
2004CRASH, Recent PaintingsPROSPER, Tokyo, JapanSolo
2004CRASH, Fender Stratocaster 50th AnniversaryFender Museum, Corona, CASolo
2003CRASH, BARRIOSArtLink International, Lake Worth, FLSolo
2003BARRIOSKarolyn Sherwood Gallery, Des Moines, IowaSolo
2003Protocol, CRASHE ONEthe LAB101, Los Angeles, CASolo
2003100 Small PaintingsRECON @, San Francisco, CAGroup
2003Crash: The Train PaintingsSpeerstra Gallery, Paris, FranceSolo
2002Barrios: Celebrating the Latino Neighborhoods of New York CityLongwood Arts Project, New York City, NYSolo
2002KAWS & CRASHMADEgallery, Vancouver, BCGroup
2002CRASH, The Train PaintingsGalerie Speerstra, Paris, FranceGroup
2002BARRIOSHostos Art Gallery, Hostos Community College/CUNY, Bronx, NYSolo
2002The Power of CrashArt Link International Gallery, Lake Worth, FLSolo
2002CRASH, Notes from the WestsideGalerie Speerstra, Paris, FranceSolo
2002The Train PaintingsGalerie Speerstra, Paris, FranceSolo
2002BarriosHostos Art Gallery, Hostos Community College/CUNY, Bronx, NYGroup
2001CLUBBeaconsfield, Beaconsfield (England)Group
2001Breaking CurfewCPOP Gallery, Detroit, MISolo
2001InstallationPROSPER, NYSolo
2001INT./EXT.Eastwick Gallery, Chicago, ILGroup
2001Collaborations: CRASHE ONETRIIAD, Paris, FranceGroup
2001Post-Graffiti New York, CRASH-ToxicVeranneman Foundation, Kruishoutem, BelgiumGroup
2001CRASHFine Arts and Artists, Washington, DCSolo
2000From East to West, Mural InstallationScottsdale Museum of Contemporary ArtGroup
2000CRASH, The TimetableGalerie BLU, Pontiac, MISolo
2000Graffiti IndoorsAZ/NY Contemporary, Scottsdale, AZSolo
2000CRASHVIPS International, Rotterdam, The NetherlandsSolo
2000UnknownDorothy Blau Gallery, Bay Harbor Islands, FLGroup
2000Projects UnitedKunst Zurich 2000, Zurich, SwitzerlandGroup
2000From Pablo Picasso to Andy WarholAntico Monastero Santa Chiara, San Marino, CAGroup
1999Urban IslandsCUBITT, London (England)Group
1999Rundgang 4 - Change is GoodKunsthalle Fridericianum, KasselGroup
1999American Graffiti: CRASH & DAZEMusée d'Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporian, Nice, FranceSolo
1999CRASH and DAZE: On the Express Train 1977-1999Palais Liechtenstein, Reldkirch, AustraliaSolo
1999CRASH and DAZE: On the Express Train 1977-1999GroBmarkthallen, Munich, GermanySolo
1999BEst BuddiesGalerie Blue, Pontiac, MIGroup
1999Cadaver Dog, Art from the East Village/LES-the 1980’sLIFE Café, New York, NYGroup
1998American GraffitiCAM - Casa Andrade Muricy, CuritibaGroup
1998CRASH / DAZEEnrico Coveri, Florence, ItalySolo
1998CRASH, Verticals and HorizontalsMary Anthony Galleries, New York, NYSolo
1998CRASH, Vail/Giesler Contemporary ArtDes Moines, IWSolo
1998CRASH, The ExhibitionMasterpiece Gallery, Birmingham, MISolo
1998Coming From The Subway: New York Graffiti Art,Museum Der Stadt Ratingen, Ratingen, GermanyGroup
1998American GraffitiMuseo Andriade Muricy, Curitiba, BrazilGroup
1997CRASH2nd Floor Limited, New Orleans, LASolo
1997CRASHBruce R. Lewin Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1997New York – New Works: John CRASH MatosGaleria Las Palomas, Gaucin, SpainSolo
1997Unholy LustTodd Kaplan Gallery, Los Angeles, CAGroup
1996CRASHDorothy Blau Gallery, Bay Harbor Islands, FLSolo
1996Everything That’s Interesting is NewThe Athens School of Fine Arts, Athens, GreeceGroup
1996New York Unplugged IIGallery Cotthem, Knokke-Zoute, BelgiumGroup
1996The Usual Suspects,Avanti Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1995CRASH The VillainsMary Anthony Galleries, New York, NYSolo
1995CRASHGallery Cotthem, Knokke-Zoutte, BelgiumSolo
1995SynaesthesiaMary Anthony Galleries, New York, NYGroup
1994CRASH, Works on PaperThe Hobbs Gallery, Boston, MASolo
1994CRASH, Mary Anthony Fine ArtsNew Hope, PASolo
1994CRASH/DAZE Recent WorksYork College, a City University of New York, Jamaica, Queens, NYSolo
1994Influential Works in the 90'sThe Hobbs Gallery, Boston, MAGroup
1994Urban Expressionism (The Hip Hop Movement)The Hudson Guild Art Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1994AerosoulThe Patterson Museum, Paterson, NJGroup
1993CRASH Through Express Part I (Retrospective)Taller Puertoriqueno, Philadelphia, PASolo
1993CRASH Through Express Part I (Retrospective)MEXI-CARTE Museum, Austin TXSolo
1993CRASH Through Express Part I (Retrospective)Hostos Arts Gallery of Eugenio Maris de Hostos Community College of the City of New York, Bronx, NYSolo
1993CRASH Through Express Part I (Retrospective)Gallery Cotthem, Zotegem, BelgiumSolo
1993CRASH & DAZE, Deux Peintres New YorkaisGalerie de la Cathredrale, Monaco, FranceSolo
1992New Paintings by CRASHSidney Janis Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1992John CRASH Matos: New WorksC’an Isidro, Ibiza, SpainSolo
1992CRASH SuperheroesMartin Lawrence Modern, New York, NYSolo
1992LegacyRempire Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1991CRASHGalerie Michel Gillet, Paris, FranceSolo
1991CRASHGalerie Artcade, Nice, FranceSolo
1991Modern POPMartin Lawrence Modern, New York, NYGroup
1991Hip Hop NationReal Art Ways, Hartford, CTGroup
1991SAGAGrand Palais, Paris, FranceGroup
1990CRASH & DAZEGallery Structure, Montpellier, FranceSolo
1990CRASHHokin Gallery, Bay Harbor Islands, FLSolo
1990CRASH & DAZEBlack and White in Color Gallery, Bronx, NYSolo
1989CRASHTamara Bane Gallery, Los Angeles, CASolo
1989CRASHHokin Gallery, Bay Harbor Islands, FLSolo
1989CRASHB5 Gallery, MonacoSolo
1988Comic IconoclasmCornerhouse, Manchester (England)Group
1988CRASHSidney Janis Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1987CRASH!The Manhattan Borough President David N. Dinkins Municipal Building, New York, NYSolo
1987Ludwig CollectionForte Belvedere, Florence, ItalyGroup
1986CRASHJus de Pomme Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1986CRASHSidney Janis Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1986CRASHYaki Kornblit Gallery, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsSolo
1985CRASHYaki Kornblit Gallery, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsSolo
1984BO-NY-TO!Neon Campobase, BolognaGroup
1984CRASHYaki Kornblit Gallery, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsSolo
1984CRASH & DAZESidney Janis Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1983New Work New York - Newcastle Salutes New YorkUniversity Gallery and Baring Wing - Northumbria University, Newcastle upon TyneGroup
1983CRASHYaki Kornblit Gallery, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsSolo
1983CRASH51X Gallery, New York, NYSolo
198251XpressionismGallery 51X, New York City, NYGroup
1982CRASHFashion Moda, Bronx, NYSolo
1981CRASHReal Art Ways, Hartford, CTSolo