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Born Leonard McGurr, Futura made his reputation spray painting subway trains in New York City in the 1970s as “Futura 2000” — the number was dropped in 1999. He would go on to be part of the booming graffiti and street art movement in the 1980s, but was forced to depend on European venues and collectors after attention in the United States quickly dried up in the late 1980s, though he did go on to collaborate with various American fashion and music labels.
Now he’s back with his first solo New York exhibition in 32 years, which is taking place at Eric Firestone Gallery in Manhattan. In this conversation, he generously shares his insight into the mercurial art world, what motivates him to continue making work, and reflections on a scene that continues to change.
The music in this episode is Lara Sarkissian’s “A House is a Being,” from the album Grief Into Rage: A Compilation for Beirut, which is raising funds for victims of the Beirut blast last August. I’m sending love to those who continue to grapple with that horrific event.