Lenny McGurr

Futura /   Lenny McGurr

United States 1955

Graffiti, Design


Lenny McGurr
United States
April 6, 2016
Alias of Jasmina Sevic, a researcher and author for Widewalls. She graduated from the Faculty of Political Science (Department for Journalism) in Belgrade in 2013.

The living legend of the graffiti movement, illustrator, photographer, sculptor, fashion and graphic designer from New York City, Futura – also known as Futura 2000 – is one of the major players on the current international urban art scene. The contemporary of SAMO, Keith Haring, Richard Hambleton, Cope2 and many other iconic NY writers, Futura helped define the graffiti movement of the early 1970s by moving it away from lettering and towards the more painterly, abstract style. This highly influential and multi-faceted artist has, to date, remained unique, fresh, and evolving, and his characteristic style has paved the way for a whole new generation of high-profile urban artists.

Futura time contact fashion 2016 terms
Futura – Elleptical Orbital, 2009 (Left) / Anti Depressant, 2009 (Right), photo credits – Hang-Up Gallery

Futura 2000

Futura is the pseudonym of Lenny McGurr born in 1955 in New York. Growing up on 103rd Street in Brooklyn during the boom years of train bombing, McGurr was introduced to graffiti in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s while he was traveling to school. Inspired by his favorite movie 2001: A Space Odyssey from Kubrick and a book Future Shock written by the futurist Alvin Toffler, the young artist settled on the superhero pseudonym Futura 2000. He started to paint illegally on New York subway trains and city walls in the early seventies becoming widely known for his radically distinct approach to graffiti art. He introduced abstraction into a previously letter-based art form by covering whole cars of the city’s subway trains with his expressive paintings. Futura can be seen as the follower of some of the most prominent Abstract Expressionist ideas.

Futura world work life interview terms
Futura – Pollock Redux 1, 2014 (Left) / Pollock Redux 2, 2014 (Right), photo credits Magda Danysz Gallery

Father of Abstract Graffiti

Growing up in the era of the civil rights movement, anti-war, and anti-draft protests had a great influence on Futura. In 1975, he joined the Navy and spent four years in Kenya, Pakistan, Australia, the Philippines, and all over Asia. When he came back to New York in the late 1970s, he realized that graffiti evolved and that street creatives were doing amazing artworks on the walls. Upon his return to the Big Apple, he met Keith Harring and Jean-Michel Basquiat and befriended with them. Futura emerged as the first artist who covered an entire wagon in abstract graffiti. Based on more graphic rules, in the beginning, his expressions developed into complex geometry, to achieve a more liberated form today, where a freer composition and colors are the base.

“When I first started making paintings in 1979-81, people were comparing me to Kandinsky and making references to other artists throughout art history whom I had never heard of!”

Futura work life
Futura – Rumbaba, 2014 (Left) / Sabor, 2014 (Right), photo credits Magda Danysz Gallery

The Clash and The Escapades of Futura 2000

In the early 1980s, Futura began painting “legally” while he toured Europe with the punk band the Clash. He was painting banners for their stage show and taking an occasional cameo on the microphone. When the Clash went to New York in the 80’s they fell in love with the new culture of Hip-Hop that was emerging in lower-Manhattan’s art district and asked Futura to go on a tour with them and paint while they performed. The Clash’s song Overpowered by Funk from their fifth album Combat Rock features rapping vocals by Futura 2000. This collaboration didn’t end there, though. In 1983, Futura collaborated with Mike Jones of the Clash writing and singing the lyrics to The Escapades of Futura 2000, a track that articulated his artistic manifesto at the time, proclaiming: “I guess I must admire—the need to set things on fire”. Futura has been active ever since, probing perceptions of public and private space, and blurring the line between street, commercial and fine art.

Futura - interview world life edition
Futura 2000 – Nuevo Negro Futura, 2008 (Left) / Saint Patrick Futura, 2009 (Right), photo credits – Hang-Up Gallery

Pointman and Futura Laboratories

A signature figure throughout the artist’s oeuvre has been the Pointman, a robotic figure with an extended head, giving it the form of a Spaceship. Created in 1988, when Futura designed the cover art for the musical duo UNKLE’s debut album, Psyence Fiction, the Pointman has been one of the artist’s most recognizable motifs. With the success of the music album, came the success for the Pointman. Japanese toy manufacturer Medicom produced collectible toys. Bathing Ape, Nike and Levi’s were collaborators. The ventures gave Futura the opportunity to create his own brand: Futura Laboratories.

Futura interview work world live
Futura 2000 – Pointman Orange, 2007 (Left) / Pointman Black, 2007 (Right), photo credits – Hang-Up Gallery

The Authority in Graffiti, Art, and Design

One of the founding fathers of street art, this widely recognized and multitalented artist is still very active. Highly respected by both his colleagues and art collectors, he has exhibited his works at such notable art spaces as the MoMA PS1 in New York, the Boymans Museum in Rotterdam, and the Gallery Du Jour in Paris. With a career that spans more than 45 years, he continues to create the cutting edge pieces which still seem fresh and influence young creatives throughout the globe.

The artist is represented by Magda Danysz in Paris, Magda Danysz in Shanghai, and Hang-Up Gallery in London.

Futura lives and works in New York.

YearExhibition TitleMuseum/GallerySolo/Group
2016Glamorous GraffitiNassau County Museum of Art, New YorkGroup
2015The Bridges of Graffiti, Venice BiennaleVenice, ItalySolo
2015Choises2Gallery Magda Danysz, ShanghaiGroup
2015Sleeping BeautyGallery Magda Danysz, ParisGroup
2015InterventionsGallery Magda Danysz, ParisGroup
2015360 DegreesGallery Magda Danysz, ShanghaiGroup
2014FuturaMd Gallery, Shanghai, ChinaSolo
2014TimewarpSchusev State Museum Of Architecture, Moscow, RussiaSolo
2014IntrospectiveMagda Danysz Gallery, Paris, FranceSolo
2013Grafology: Mike Namer's Private CollectionGallery 151, New York Group
2013Les Bains / artists residency Galerie Magda Danysz, ParisGroup
2013Urban Art Biennale 2013 Urban Art Biennale, VolklingenGroup
2013Futura 2000Ica, London, U.K Solo
2012FUTURA 2012 - ExpansionsGalerie Jerome De Noirmont, ParisGroup
20113 KingsSubliminal Projects , Los Angeles, CAGroup
2011CLUB 57 & FriendsDorian Grey Gallery, New YorkGroup
2011Graffiti New York 80sGalerie Jerome De Noirmont, ParisGroup
2011Kindergarten Galleria Civica Di Modena, ModenaGroup
2011Art in the Streets The Geffen Contemporary Of Moca, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2010Graffiti NYC - Artists of the Third Rail Benrimon Contemporary, New York City, NYGroup
2010Street and StudioVon Basquiat Bis Seripop, Kunsthalle Wien (Museumsquartier), ViennaGroup
2009From Style Writing to Art (Part 2 - Shanghai) 18Gallery Shanghai - Bund18, ShanghaiGroup
2009From Style Writing to art Galerie Magda Danysz, ParisGroup
2009Graffiti - etat des lieux Galerie Du Jour Agnes B, ParisGroup
2009The New Yorkers V1 Gallery, CopenhagenGroup
2008Locked & Loaded Joshua Liner Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2007MY 2007Colette, ParisGroup
2007There is a U in Us V1 Gallery, CopenhagenGroup
2005Futura2000V1 Gallery, CopenhagenSolo
2004East Village USANew Museum Of Contemporary Art, New York City, NYGroup
2002Session the Bowl - - Deitch Projects 76 Grand Street, New York City, NYGroup
2001Futura 2000Collette, Paris, France Solo
2000Futura 2000Bob, New York, USA Solo
1999Futura 2000Variant, New York, USASolo
1999UntitledSsur Gallery, New York, USAGroup
1999UntitledByss Bystro, Hong KongGroup
1998UntitledReproduced, Berlin, GermanyGroup
1997UntitledTramshed, London, U.K.Group
1996UntitledSummersault, Melbourne, AustraliaGroup
1996Futura 2000L'Aeronef, Lille, France Solo
1996Futura 2000Livestock Gallery, New York, USA Solo
1996Futura 2000Solaria, Fukuoka, Japan Solo
1995UntitledC World, New York, USAGroup
1995UntitledAlcorcon Exhibit, Madrid, SpainGroup
1995UntitledCamden Town, London, U.K.Group
1995UntitledAgnes B, Paris, FranceGroup
1995UntitledTbm Experiment, Rome, ItalyGroup
1994UntitledSixth Congress Gallery, Tucson, USAGroup
1994Futura 2000Time Space Light, New York, USA Solo
1994Le Temps d un DessinGallery De Beaux-Arts, Lorient, FranceGroup
1994UntitledGallery Cotthem-Knokke, Barcelona, Spain Solo
1994UntitledGallery Cotthem-Knokke, Barcelona, SpainGroup
1993Spraycan ArtSixth Congress Gallery, Tucson, USAGroup
1993Futura 2000Zero One Gallery, Los Angeles, USA Solo
1993UntitledPicasso Museum, Antibes, FranceGroup
1993UntitledTime Space Light, New York, USAGroup
1993UntitledBerlin Art Academy, Berlin, GermanyGroup
1993UntitledZero One Gallery, Los Angeles, USAGroup
1992Futura 2000Gallery Du Jour, Paris, France Solo
1992UntitledKlarfeld Perry, New York, USAGroup
1992UntitledRempire Gallery, New York, USAGroup
1992UntitledGroninger Museum, Groningen, NetherlandsGroup
1992UntitledThread Waxing, New York, USAGroup
1992UntitledDavid Leonardis Gallery, Chicago, USAGroup
1991Futura 2000Gallery Du Jour, Paris Solo
1991UntitledBrooke Alexander, New York, USAGroup
1991Futura 2000Structures-Montpelier Solo
1991UntitledFederal Reserve-Washington D.C.Group
1991UntitledTrocadero Museum, Paris, FranceGroup
1991UntitledColeen Greco Gallery, Nyack, USAGroup
1991UntitledGallery Du Jour, Paris, FranceGroup
1991UntitledMartim Lawrence Gallery, New York, USAGroup
1991UntitledLiverpool Gallery, Brussels, BelgiumGroup
1990Futura 2000Martin Lawrence Gallery, New York, USA Solo
1990UntitledGallery Du Jour, Paris, FranceGroup
1990Futura 2000Philippe Briet Gallery, New York, USA Solo
1990UntitledGallery B5, MonacoGroup
1990Futura 2000Gallery B5, MonacoSolo
1990UntitledMichael Kohn Gallery, Los AngelesGroup
1990Artists of the yearPhilippe Briet Gallery, New York, USAGroup
1989Futura 2000Arcs & Cracs, Barcelona, Spain Solo
1989Futura 2000Musee Du Vire, Vire Solo
1989Futura 2000Gallery Du Jour, Paris, France Solo
1988Futura 2000Philippe Briet Gallery, New York, USA Solo
1988UntitledPhilippe Briet Gallery, New York, USAGroup
1988UntitledMuseum Of American Graffiti, New York, USAGroup
1987UntitledMichael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles, USAGroup
1986UntitledSemaphore East, New York, USAGroup
1986Futura 2000Semaphore Gallery, New York, USA Solo
1985Futura 2000Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles, USA Solo
1985UntitledKentucky Litho Building, Louisville, USAGroup
1985Futura 2000Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York, USA Solo
1985UntitledFlow Ace Gallery, Los Angeles, USAGroup
1984Homage to PicassoTony Shafrazi Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
1984Rapid Enamel The Art of Graffiti The Renaissance Society At The University Of Chicago, Chicago, IlGroup
1984Artist T-Shirts Ronald Feldman Fine Arts Inc, New York City, NYGroup
1984Futura 2000Fun Gallery, New York, USA Solo
1984New York GraffitiSeibu Gallery, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1984New York GraffitiGalozzi La Placa, New York, USAGroup
1984Futura 2000Yaki Korinblit Gallery, Amsterdam, Netherlands Solo
1984Classical American Graffiti Writers and High Graffiti ArtistsGallery Thomas, Munich, GermanyGroup
1984New York GraffitiRobert Fraser Gallery, London, U.K.Group
1984New York GraffitiLouisana, Copenhagen, DenmarkGroup
1984Summer ExhibitionFun Gallery, New York, USAGroup
1984New York GraffitiGroninger Museum, Groningen, NetherlandsGroup
1984Arte di Frontiera, New York GraffitiMuseum D'Arte Moderna, Bologna, ItalyGroup
1983Painting Sculpture Totems and 3D Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
1983Champions Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
1983Futura 2000Four Blue Squares, San Francisco, USA Solo
1983UntitledLucky Strike, New York, USAGroup
1983Futura 2000Baronian-Lambert-Gent Solo
1983UntitledMonique Knowlton Gallery, New York, USAGroup
1983Futura 200051X Gallery, New York, USA Solo
1983UntitledFun Gallery, New York, USAGroup
1983Futura 2000Yaki Korinblit, Amsterdam, Netherlands Solo
1983UntitledAmerican Graffiti Gallery, Amsterdam, NetherlandsGroup
1983Futura 2000Fun Gallery, New York, USA Solo
1983UntitledGallery 121, Antwerp, BelgiumGroup
1983Futura 2000Yvon Lambert, Paris, France Solo
1983UntitledGallery Zellermeyer, Berlin, GermanyGroup
1983UntitledFay Gold Gallery, Atlanta, USAGroup
1983Untitled51X Gallery, New York, USAGroup
1983GraffitiBoymans Museum, Rotterdam, NetherlandsGroup
1983New Art at the Tate GalleryTate Gallery, London, U.K.Group
1983UntitledGreenville Museum, South Carolina, USAGroup
1983Post GraffitiSydney Janis, New York, USAGroup
1982Futura 2000Fun Gallery, New York, USA Solo
1982UntitledUCSC, Santa Cruz, USAGroup
1982Futura 2000Fnac-Strasbourg Solo
1982UntitledP.S.1, New York, USAGroup
1982UntitledBank Of America, Hong KongGroup
1982New York Now, Exposition ItineranteKestner-Gesellschaft, Hanover, GermanyGroup
1982UntitledFashion Moda, New York, USAGroup
1982UntitledFun Galler, New York, USAGroup
1982Kenny Scharf and Futura 2000 Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
198251Xpressionism Gallery 51X, New York City, NYGroup
1981UntitledMudd Club, New York, USAGroup
1981Events, Artist invite ArtistsNew Museum, New York, USAGroup
1981UntitledP.S.1, New York, USAGroup
1980Beyond Words : Graffiti Based-Rooted-Inspired WorksMudd Club, New York, USAGroup
1980Graffiti Art Success of AmericaSoul Artists Alternative Space, New YorkGroup