We knew Rizzoli was releasing an art book of the works the influential artist and collector Martin Wong amassed during 1970s and ‘80s New York. But we had no idea that would turn into a full-on museum escapade led by the city that still sometimes fights pretty dirty to keep graffiti off its streets.
"City as Canvas: Graffiti Art from the Martin Wong Collection" opens up Tuesday, February 4 at the Museum of the City of New York. Wong worked at Pearl Paint on Canal Street in New York City when he moved from San Francisco. It’s there that he met many of the graffiti writers of the day who would later become icons in the movement: Lady Pink, Dondi, Futura 2000, Zephyr, Daze, and more. The work of many of these artists—including sketches from their black books—will be on display, along with old photographs of graffiti, mixed media works, and photos by well-known catalogers of the medium, such as Charlie Ahearn and Martha Cooper.
The exhibition also features a grip of Wong’s work, as well as a new 13-minute documentary on the collector and artist by Ahearn himself (who directed Wild Style). The new film includes many artists talking about Wong's importance in the graffiti scene. Wong donated his entire collection to the city in 1994, before passing away of AIDS in 1999.
Mark this one on your calendars: it's on view February 4 to August 24.