YO back again bringing you the frshest in hip hop knowledge today is a scorcher. Graffiti artist Lee Quinones a long time standing icon in the game for me ever since I watched the Film ‘Wild Style’. From there I discovered more of his work through various books which i begged my parents to buy for me, luckily the nagging payed off. So let us get down to business, so yall can see why this man is such an icon and deserves such respect for his contributions to the culture.
Lee Quiñones is one of several artists rising from the New York subway graffiti movement. Born in Ponce, Puerto Rico in 1960, raised in Lower East Side Manhattan. Lee was constantly drawing since the age of five and started with subway graffiti in 1974. By 1976, Lee was a legend, working in the shadow, leaving huge pieces of graffiti art across the subway system.
Lees style is rooted in popular culture, often with political messages. Along with Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Lee Quiñones was one of the innovators of New York’s street-art movement and is considered the single most influential artist to emerge from the graffiti era. As a subway graffiti artist, Lee almost exclusively painted whole cars, all together about 125 cars. Lee was a major contributor to the first-ever whole-train, along with DOC, MONO and SLAVE. In November 1976, ten subway cars were painted with a range of colorful murals and set a new benchmark for the scale of graffiti works. This is documented in an interview with Quiñones in John Naar’s “The Birth of Graffiti”. Quiñones appeared with several pieces in one of the most sold art books ever, “Subway Art”, and the award winning documentary Style Wars. He became an influence for youths worldwide. Several of Quiñones whole cars made in the 70’s and 80’s has earned iconic status by graffiti writers all over the world, many of the pieces are only documented in cheap instamatic photos. “The Hell Express”, “Earth is Hell, Heaven is Life”, “Stop the Bomb” are some of Quiñones paintings that ran for months. Quiñones pieces were left untouched by other writers and some of them ran for years. Thousands of writers were painting on subway cars at that time.
Click Images To Enlarge
Quiñones often added poetic messages in his pieces. “Graffiti is art and if art is a crime, please God, forgive me” is one of his most famous quotes. Except for subway cars, Lee also painted huge handball court murals in his neighbourhood, i e “Howard the Duck,” the first whole handball court mural, in the spring of 1978 outside of his old High School.
Click Images To Enlarge
As part of one of the most respected writing crews, The Fabolous 5, Lee shared the philosophy of whole car bombing with the other members; DIRTY SLUG, MONO, DOC109, PROF 165, OG 2, BLUD, SONY, BOB, SLAVE and DEL. The most prolific members were DIRTY SLUG, MONO, DOC109, SLAVE and LEE (the youngest member of the crew). Along with SLAVE, LEE would keep the FAB 5 name alive long after the others retired.
Quiñones was one of the first street artists to transition away from creating murals on trains and begin creating canvas-based paintings. The 1979 exhibition of his canvases at Claudio Bruni’s Galleria Medusa in Rome introduced street art to the rest of the world.
Click Image below To Watch 1989 Interview
Today, Quiñones is a well accepted artist. Recently, at a exhibition, all paintings were sold to guitar legend Eric Clapton. Quiñones raised money for the survivors of Katrina, by a bicycling tour from NYC to Florida. He also has hold lectures at universities in Europe as well as in the USA.
Lee’s paintings are housed in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of Art, the Museum of the City New York, the Groninger Museum (Groningen, Netherlands) and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam, Netherlands, and have been exhibited at the New Museum Of Contemporary Art (New York City), the Museum of National Monuments (Paris, France) and the Staatliche Museum (Germany). Pictures of his years as graffiti writer are featured in the books Subway Art, Spraycan Art. “The Birth of Graffiti” and “Graffiti Kings: New York City Mass Transit Art of the 1970s”.
Click Image Below To Watch 2011 Interview
He plays Raymond Zoro in Charlie Ahearn’s movie Wild Style (1983) and appears in Blondie’s promo video of the song “Rapture.” He plays himself in Adam Bhala Lough’s Bomb the System (2002).
Click Image Below To See Lee’s Film Appearances
Well thats it for another instalment of DOAC hope you have found it informative and fun, keep supporting graffiti in all forms. Big love and respect to Lee Quinones from the WIB fam.
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Born to an international globetrotting life style now residing in the southeast of the UK. Self confessed nerd, hip hop, comic books, toys and gourmet cooking is what I rep. Doing it for the love of peoples creative endeavors, new or old. Covering events in the UK you may see me lurking in the shadows like Sherlock.