The Ghost Galerie Paris exhibits the legends of New York Street Art!11 October 2021
When I talk about American Street Art, I’m not talking about today’s artists who create incredible murals, but about those who are part of the history of Street Art: the kings of graffiti. Their names are Lady Pink, Futura 2000, Lee Quinones, Dondi White, John Matos alias Crash, TOXIC, Keith Haring,… In the 80’s they put their Blazes on the New York subways and coloured the Queens, the Bronx and Brooklyn with their works. I was lucky enough during my travels in New York to come across the works of some of these artists who continue to tirelessly “sign” the city.
The Ghost Gallery in Paris: successor to the Fun Gallery in New York?
As you know, I don’t usually talk about galleries or the art market. Today I’m making an exception to the rule, because having the opportunity to admire works that are an integral part of the history of American street art is a rare thing. What’s more, the way the Ghost Galerie has organised its “Our Ghosts” exhibition is a far cry from the mercantile and duplicative approach of many galleries dedicated to Urban Art.
The works on display, such as this magnificent and more than magical piece by Futura 2000, take us right back to 1981 when Patti Astor, an American night owl, decided to open the Fun Gallery in Manhattan. Her aim was to bring graffiti into the world of contemporary art. Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Lady Pink, Kenny Scharf had solo shows there as did Futura 2000. Futura 2000’s work, which gives us a glimpse of the beginnings of his emblematic alien character, was part of his first solo show at the Fun Gallery.
An immersion in the genesis of New York Street Art
I was surprised to see large-scale works when I arrived at the Ghost gallery! To finally have the opportunity to admire a major piece by Lady Pink, the pioneer of urban graffiti, is a rare thing. Her work is better seen in New York museums such as MoMa or the Withney Museum than in a Parisian gallery. This work reflects the ghosts of her past; a difficult and turbulent start to life for a young Ecuadorian woman in the ultra-violent Queens neighbourhood of the 1980s.
There is an urgency and spontaneity in the works presented and if one lingers on them, one can detect a part of revendication. We find the lettering typical of those years, with a beautiful blaze by Dondi and a wooden panel, which we would all like to have at home, featuring his favourite character.
Not to mention the explosive triptych by TOXIC, who started painting at the age of 13 in the New York underground, which jumps out at us! A must-see work that offers us a thousand captivating details.
I would never have imagined that I would recommend you to visit a gallery. But given the quality of the works presented, it would be selfish of me not to mention it. What’s more, if you venture there, don’t hesitate to be accompanied by Jérôme Pauchant, the gallery’s director and a huge enthusiast of this period, who will be able to tell you the story of these artists, their works and lead you to see details that you could never imagine!
I am sure that Patti Astor would see in this Ghost Galerie the success of her daring gamble made 40 years ago. Yes, urban art has entered the closed world of contemporary art and the Ghost Galerie is further proof of this.
You will find all the information to visit the Ghost Gallery on its website and if you want to see and learn more about American Street Art, I invite you to look at the works found at the Welling Court Mural Project in Queens or the Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn. Another tribute to these Street Artists is also the one done at the MOSA Bowery in New-York in the area of the emblematic Fun Gallery!
I hope you enjoyed this little foray into American street art of the 80s! If you did, don’t hesitate to share with other enthusiasts!
As for me, I’m off to new Street Art adventures that I’ll share with you next week.