Graffiti From the 70s Are Back

A treasure trove of 1970's and 80's graffiti art is on view at the Museum of the City of New York.

The collection showcases early work by Keith Haring, DONDI, and Lee Quinones among other artists. The exhibit includes sketchbooks, photos, and canvases collected by Martin Wong, who was an artist and friend of graffiti artists in the '80s. Wong donated his entire collection to the museum before he died of AIDS in 1999.

Lynn Ratner, who grew up in the Lower East Side, came by to see the show and said she's had a change of heart about graffiti. "I was surrounded by this and all the artists and I didn't like it. I thought they were defacing and I couldn't understand why they were doing it. But, now I realize that it was more than just the artwork," Ratner said.

Museum-goers got a surprise on Thursday, when three men who went by the names VerseTDS, Boots119 and Kit17, gave impromptu tours and interviews supposedly about their days tagging subway cars as teenagers in the 1970s. Anthony Lomusico, who went by Kit17, pointed to his name on a the side of a train as it rolled across a screen in a video installation. The museum said they didn't know who they were.

The exhibit is on view until August 24.

A black book sketch by Blade made in 1975. Artists often sketched their ideas before creating on subways or buildings.

A black book sketch by Blade made in 1975. Artists often sketched their ideas before creating on subways or buildings. (courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York and Blade)

 

Untitled by Keith Haring, arcyllic and ink on wood.

Untitled by Keith Haring, arcyllic and ink on wood. (courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York and the Keith Haring foundation)

 

'Untitled' by Sane Smith, a duo of graffiti artists from the 80s and 90s who hit high-profile locations throughout the city.

'Untitled' by Sane Smith, a duo of graffiti artists from the 80s and 90s who hit high-profile locations throughout the city. (courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York and Sane Smith)


Jon Naar documented New York's graffiti art movement in the 1970s and 80s. In this photograph, child artists pose with their work.

Jon Naar documented New York's graffiti art movement in the 1970s and 80s. In this photograph, child artists pose with their work. (courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York and John Naar)