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Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

R.I.P. Rammellzee (1960-2010)

(Image: Kostas Seremetis)

We are sad to report the death of pioneering graffiti, hip-hop, visual and performance artist, the one and only Rammellzee. Check out Fast Company’s profile and the tribute below, sent out today by our friends at Anonymous Gallery:

New York artist and performer Rammellzee (born in 1960 in Queens, New York) is credited with being one of the inventors of graffiti art as we know it. Through writing, drawing and painting on subway cars in spray paint and felt-tip pen in the late ‘70s, he became interested in the symbolic value of letters. Rammellzee named his style “Gothic Futurism,” describing the battle between letters and their symbolic warfare against any standardizations enforced by the rules of the alphabet. When his style of writing became more mainstream in the world of graffiti, Rammellzee built his letters into flying armored vehicles, bursting forth with a style and philosophy all his own that he termed “Ikonoklast Panzerism”

He has continued to explore these ideas through a variety of media ever since, from the paintings that in 1988 Gerrit Henry described in Art In America as having “a Star-Wars-via-Jackson-Pollock look” to the legendary hip-hop single “Beat Bop” that was produced by the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, and became not just one of the most collectible hip hop releases ever, but a model for generations of witty and experimental musicians.

In 1982, he appeared in the seminal hip hop documentary Wildstyle by Charlie Ahearn. Rammellzee has shown in galleries and museums throughout the world including P.S. 1 in New York and performed in his iconic self-designed masks and costumes at the 2005 Venice Biennale. His work is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, however Ramm always contended his highest achievements could be viewed from the train yards…

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Graffiti, New York City, R.I.P. | Comment now »


Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

89 Year Old Granny is Banksy

At least that’s what is being reported today by the Onion. Read it here

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Graffiti, Humor, London | Comment now »


Monday, June 14th, 2010

New FAILE Print on Sale / Portugal Project Revealed

Faile’s studio during preparations for their 2008 exhibit, Lost in Glimmering Shadows. (Image via Faile)

A few short weeks after closing the doors to their Deluxx Fluxx Arcade, more news comes in from the FAILE camp. A new print goes on sale tomorrow, June 15 at 12pm EST via PaperMonster. Titled Ecstasy, the silkscreen will be one of the final releases from the Lost in Glimmering Shadows series, based on imagery from FAILE’s 2008 show in London. Keeping true to form, the 12 color signed, stamped and numbered edition of 175 was screened and painted in-house, and measures 25″ x 38″

FAILE have also announced more details on their upcoming contribution to Portugal Arte 10. From July 16  to 15 August 15, the Brooklyn-based artists will display Temple, a full-scale church in ruins, set in Praça dos Restauradores Square in Lisbon.

UPDATE: Here’s the print, released for $775 and sold out  as of 6/15. Note that colors vary due to hand painted elements.

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Editions, Graffiti, Installation, New Infos | Comment now »


Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Historic Haring Mural in Need of Rescue

The faded and damaged Haring mural as it looks today. (Image: Andrew De La Rue via Sydney Morning Herald)

The Art Newspaper reports that the last surviving mural Keith Haring painted entirely on his own, and the first project he completed with the assistance of a cherry picker, is in dire need of preservation. Painted in 1984 during Haring’s only visit to Australia, the mural occupies the wall of the former Collingwood Technical College in a Melbourne suburb. Last restored in 1996, the significant work has not been maintained for almost 15 years, and suffers from significant surface lifting and cracking of the paint. Estimates to stabilize the outdoor work are reported at  A$25,000 ($22,000 US), with an additional A$1,000 ($900) for annual upkeep.

Several major Australian arts institutions and local municipalities have banned together to raise support for its restoration. “It is our own government who has lapsed in its duty of care,” said one spokesperson, noting that the building is owned by the Victorian State Government and that the mural sits on its heritage registry.

”Yarra’s mayor Jane Garrett said, “The mural is a part of Yarra and inner-Melbourne’s cultural and physical landscape—and we want to ensure it stays that way,” adding that interested parties were in the process of setting up a working group including representatives from the arts community and other interested parties to “discuss the mural’s future and come to a consensus on the most appropriate way to preserve it.”

The original mural in progress durning Haring’s 1984 visit to Melbourne (Image via The Art Newspaper)

In more productive news, a new series of Keith Haring adhesive wall graphics (pictured below) has been released by Bilk, with several different designs available from $18 – $55.


Monday, June 7th, 2010

Germano Celant Contributes to upcoming KAWS Book

KAWS‘ first comprehensive print survey is set to release September 21 via Rizzoli, one of the most respected names in art publishing. The book includes contributions by Monica Ramirez-Montagut, curator at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Connecticut (where KAWS opens his first museum show later this month) and Germano Celant, whose lengthy credentials include the titles of Director of Fondazione Prada in Milan, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the Guggenheim, Artistic Director of the first Florence Biennial in 1996, and Curator of the 1997 Venice Biennale.

This is not the first time Celant has taken an interest in artists who have crossed over from the street. In 2002 he curated Barry McGee’s first major international solo museum exhibition at Fondazione Prada, and interviewed the artist for the show’s catalog.

Celant’s interest in artists whose roots run deep in graffiti culture is easy to understand. His own contributions to contemporary art span more than 40 years, and can be traced back to the 1960s, when he spawned Arte Povera in Italy. Created in support of artists who were creating in mediums beyond those historically accepted, the loose-knit movement (literally translated as “poor art”) championed art made without any material, theoretical, or economic restraints, that, much like modern graffiti, could thrive free of the art-establishment or market place. It’s worth noting, just as many of that movement’s pioneers eventually reached larger levels of critical recognition and financial success, so have artists like KAWS and McGee.

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Graffiti, History, Publications | Comment now »


Sunday, June 6th, 2010

Reflecting on Deluxx Fluxx

Most of us around here agree that there is little new in street art  that warrants gallery presentation. That’s not necessarily a criticism of the far too bloated genre. On the one hand, even the best graffiti art can suffer a loss of viability and meaning in formal display. On the other, there are the countless bandwagoneers who have taken to the streets in a soulless pursuit of financial gain within the art establishment – theirs has no legitimate claim to public view.  Simply put, good graffiti doesn’t mean good exhibition art, and bad graffiti is just insulting. These days it can be quite a chore to weed through the clutter – both inside and outdoors.

FAILE has consistently been one of the rare exceptions. The duo have rightfully established themselves at the forefront of contemporary street art, reaching far beyond their early formula of combining Lichtensteinesque comic book mash-ups with masterful in-house printing. Their more recent forays into sculpture and production have yielded a unique brand of pop-Americana that has rightfully breached the confines of the Lazarides camp, winding up in tried and true venues, like Art Basel and even Gagosian.

The Deluxx Fluxx Arcade, their latest offering created in collaboration BÄST, is far from their most compelling work. With recent installations in London and New York, the result is more interactive video art than functional arcade. The only challenge pinball wizards will find here is to make sense of the near seizure-inducing mash-up of Faile and Bast motifs, churned through the rudimentary capabilities of 1980s gaming processors.  Amidst a backdrop of black-light posters, the result is more spectacle than spectacular. One gets the sense this was done purely for kicks, and ideally it was not intended to be passed off as anything more – then again, the hefty price tags are a lot of cash to shell out on a box of fun. At the end of it all, while Deluxx Fluxx falls short of delivering what Faile are capable of, it hopefully signals the natural growing pains of a creative unit back-stepping along the way to something beyond nostalgic retro kitsch.

Up next for Faile, is Cathedral Project, a giant sculptural installation in the heart Lisbon, opening July 16  in conjunction with Portugal Arte 10. We fully expect to see something grand.


Monday, May 10th, 2010

Poster Boy Gets Jail Time

(Image via Poster Boy)

The Wall Street Journal reports that NY subway ad slasher, Poster Boy, has been sentenced to 11 month jail time after violating the terms of his probation, stemming from felony charges of criminal mischief. The 28 year old graffiti artist, whose real name is Henry Matyjewicz, was taken into custody late last week after failing to appear at a probation hearing. Matyjewicz’s lawyer said “He’s quite shocked. It was completely unexpected,” and plans on appealing the judgement.

On the upside, the news is bound to help sales of Poster Boy’s upcoming book, which he can then funnel right back into legal fees. Joy.

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Graffiti, Legal | Comment now »


Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Here We Go Again :: Fairey Preps for NYC

(All Houston Street mural images © Jeff Newman/TheArtCollectors)

Out with the old, in with the new. After a bit of neglect, I suppose now is as good a time as any for me to pick up on posting again. We’ll see how it goes.

Shepard Fairey and co. have descended on New York City in preparation for the artist’s much talked about upcoming show at the soon-defunct Deitch Projects. Word is Fairey is looking for anyone who can offer up walls, and with an opening reception scheduled for May 1, we expect the Obey crew to have plenty of time to make their presence know.

A temporary Obey Pop Up Shop will be open April 30th – May 16, and promises a full line of items from the clothing label as well as “many surprises not to be missed.”

Check out our images of Fairey working earlier today on the beginnings of this new Houston Street piece (which replaces Os Gemeos’ mural), as well as studio shots (via Obey) of the crew prepping materials for both the gallery exhibit and store.

Shepard Fairey – May Day
May 1 – 29
Deitch Projects
18 Wooster St.
NY, NY 10013

Obey Pop Up
April 30 – May 16
151 Orchard Street
New York, New York 10002


Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Big Week for Fairey Amidst Growing Controversy

Art of Elysium’s 2010 Heaven Gala (Image via Art of Elysium)

It wouldn’t be a week without some sort of news from the Shepard Fairey camp, and this one is jam packed.

Fairey was named Visionary of the Year and lent design and decoration to children’s charity The Art of Elysium’s 2010 Annual Heaven Gala (pictured above). Fairey is participating in their annual benefit auction, and has donated several items to the fundraising event. The most exciting lot is a personal portrait sitting with the artist.  The winning bidder will be entitled to a visit with Fairey for a photo shoot, which the artist will use to create a one of a kind 30″ X 44″ mixed media canvas. The prize is valued at $30-$40,000 for the in person sitting and final artwork (or $20-$30,000 if photos are sent). Other lots include unique 40″ x 60″ canvas depicting his Burmese Monk image, estimated at $20,000, and a rather quirky one of a kind collaged 7 foot lamp, valued at $7,500 (both pictured below).  Both the portrait sitting and Burmese Monk can be bid on live via CharityBuzz until March 4, 12pm EST. If interested in the lamp, download an absentee bid form here

The opening of the third and final stop of his museum retrospective, Supply and Demand, set record attendance numbers at the Cincinatti Contemporary Arts Center this past week. Naturally, while in town, Fairey and crew were also out making their mark on the streets. (Lots more photos of the exhibition preparation, opening celebration, and outdoor campaign at the end of this post.)

(All museum and street images via Obey Clothing)

Next, Fairey’s design firm, Studio Number One, has lent their hand to titling sequences for the new Basquiat feature film, which can be seen in the trailer below.

Finally, the controversy over Fairey’s Obama portrait continues. The artist is now the subject of a federal grand jury criminal probe. Authorities are investigating whether Fairey violated federal laws prohibiting evidence tampering and perjury in connection to his copyright battle with the Associated Press. In October the artist released a public statement admitting, “in an attempt to conceal my mistake I submitted false images and deleted other images.”  As noted by Copyrights and Campaigns, the criminal investigation hinges on whether or not Fairey (along with his wife) violated 18 U.S.C. §§ 1512(c)and 1621. Section 1512 makes it a crime to “alter, destroy, mutilate, or conceal an object with intent to impair the integrity or availability of the object for use in an official proceeding,” while section 1621 declares that any person who “willfully subscribes as true any material matter which he does not believe to be true…is guilty of perjury and shall, except as otherwise expressly provided by law, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”

Fairey has filed an injunction hoping to postpone the civil suit with AP. The injunction argues

“Plaintiffs submit that there is a compelling case for postponement. Mr. Fairey is now the subject of a criminal investigation…It appears that the AP is, at minimum, encouraging and supporting that criminal investigation. Mr. Fairey’s criminal defense counsel believes that a deposition at this time would prejudice him and impair council’s ability to properly represent Mr. Fairey. Therefor, if a deposition does take place while the criminal investigation is pending, counsel would advise Mr. Fairey to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.”

While we here at TAC have supported Shepard’s fair use claims in creating his Obama portrait (which now sits in the National Portrait Gallery), we will wait for the facts to further develop before weighing in on the separate criminal investigation, and confine our comments to reporting the findings as they emerge.

Read on for more pictures from Cincinnati opening night and installation Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Artist Talk, Benefit+Fundraiser, Events, Exhibition, Graffiti, Legal, Museums, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Big Week for Fairey Amidst Growing Controversy


Thursday, February 25th, 2010

McGee + HuskMitNavn to Exhibit Together

Barry McGee will be exhibiting under his Lydia Fong monker at Alice Gallery (Brussels, Belgium), alongside Danish artist HuskMitNavn (Remember My Name). While both are known for their work in street and fine art settings, The Last Night marks the first collaboration for the artists. The joint exhibition opens March 25.

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Europe, Events, Graffiti, Upcoming | Comment now »