The FuTURA IS NOW
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Futura is in many ways the Picasso of the Hip Hop generation.
Legendary graffiti artist Futura transcends the culture
He was seemingly oblivious to the stares from the socialites gathered at Milk Studios in Los Angeles Calif. to celebrate Hennessy's latest artist collaboration with the legendary Futura. His brightly colored design in this latest limited edition from from the Hennessy group who also teamed up with KAWS for a previous release.
Lenny Mcgurr aka Futura 2000 is a living legend. Since he first appeared in New York as a graffiti artist during the 70's, he has constantly and consistently pushed the norms of graffiti based art to the limit. His style ironically defied convention in an unconventional medium. Futura was able to bring the canvas to the street, often using more traditional artistic modes in his graffiti.
Futura watched projections on the screen with the gaze of an infant discovering his reflection. His name and designs flashed on a massive video screen while loud music traveled heavily through the studio space. He sat down on the stage, staring out at those who were watching him. It should not be surprising that he continues to stay true to his artistic aesthetic of observation and recollection. Witnessing his artistic omniscience in person may cause one to doubt the substance of the material world because Futura always seems as if he's looking backwards as evidenced by the way he gazed at his art.
Futura is in many ways the Picasso of the Hip Hop generation. However, unlike Picasso; Futura is living as he is immortalized. A surreal existence that few artist and even fewer people get to truly experience. The man has his own font type for god's sake and his signature abstract aesthetics are recognized globally. His ability to traverse the multicultural landscape of the art world has put him in a position that many have strived for but few have accomplished.
As a graffiti artist, Futura is an icon in Hip Hop culture. The growing influence of Hip Hop culture has provided him with a platform to showcase his genius. A genius that may have been ignored because of how graffiti is interpreted by observers outside of the culture. Graf artist have mostly been viewed as vandals and the "art" of the medium has been largely ignored. However, some artists like Futura have been able to survive the changing landscape of the culture.
He has arguably achieved the dual respect of the streets and the art world. As evidenced by the eclectic crowd that showed up to celebrate the release which ranged from celebrities like Matt Kemp, Olivia Munn and Usher to Los Angeles socialites affiliated with the Hennessy brand.
Instead of isolating himself from the crowd that had gathered in the general area, he chose to walk amongst them. He even opted to wear a press lanyard as he took photos of displays inspired by his work that were provided by Hennessy. He studied the layout of the party with his lens in hand and almost seemed to exist outside of time. In many ways he was a tourist of his own life, which strengthens the assertion that he has somehow transcended the finite and entered into a phase of artistic immortality.
Futura 2000 found his space in the early 80's when he met rock group The Clash. Legend has it that he and a group of friends created a banner for the a Clash concert in New York. The creation of that banner led to a relationship with the group where Futura 2000 went on tour with the band. Perhaps this lead to his breaking out from graffiti to more traditional mediums. But there's nothing traditional about what he creates as evident in the bottle label he designed for Hennessy. Splattered with colorful accents that almost masquerade the dark liquor contained in the bottle's contents.
The man has his own font type for god's sake and his signature abstract aesthetics are recognized globally. His ability to traverse the multicultural landscape of the art world has put him in a position that many have strived for but few have accomplished. He has arguably achieved the dual respect of the streets and the art world. As evidenced by the eclectic crowd that showed up to celebrate the release which ranged from celebrities like Olivia Munn and Usher to Los Angeles socialites affiliated with the Hennessy brand.
His name is often mentioned in the same sentence as the late Jean Michel Basquiat who was his contemporary. Basquiat was also a medium disruptor and made the transition from street to the gallery. What if he didn't succumb to his addictions? Would Basquiat be coveted for collaborations by the likes of Nike, Recon and Hennessy?
"I'm at a loss for words," He told a large but intimate crowd. He seemed to be strangely amused that in a room full of stars and beautiful people, that is he arguably was bigger as an individual than the combined star power that was huddled into a small V.I.P. area. He paused many times as he delivered his salutations and proceeded to return to the party without the slightest hesitation as party goers asked for handshakes, hugs and pictures.
The night concluded with a performance by Santigold which allowed Futura to blend back into anonymity. It was during these waning moments of the night that a young woman asked if Futura could gift her with one of the limited edition bottles that were on display.
"I'm just the artist, I'm not a distributor", he whispered. He gave the young woman a hand gesture as if to say "Hold on". He walked over to one of the many open bars and said a few words to the bartender. He took one of the bottles off of a display behind the bar. He began to peel the velcro that had been used to fasten it to the display and led the young woman to the stage where he signed the bottle. "This is a very limited edition" he said with a large grin. He then posed for a picture and proceeded to take a picture of the photographer taking a picture of him.
Eric loren Montgomery, Contributing Writer: Eric Montgomery is a M.F.A. in Creative Writing at UCR. He has a B.A. in English Literature from Cal State Dominguez Hills. He helped develop the groundbreaking performance Uncovered: A Pageant of Hip Hop Masters. He has worked alongside several Hip Hop Theatre practioners including Rickerby Hinds, Joe Kolski Hernandez, Cory Coffer and Ana Garcia to name a few. He was a a part of a week long workshop in Ashland Oregon called Mixing Texts: Hip Hop and Shakespeare. Eric is currently a performance... (more...)