Originally born in San Francisco, Martin Wong moved to New York City in the late 1970s during the big graffiti boom. He was both a graffiti art collector and an artist himself, painting in the East Village art scene. Though he passed away 15 years ago, he endowed his extensive collection to the Museum of the City of New York in 1994, with work from prominent artists in this movement including Keith Haring, Lee Quiñones, Lady Pink, and Futura 2000.
The exhibition will run through August 24th, displaying close to 150 original drawings, paintings and sketchbooks, as well as photographs of works that have long been removed from the streets of New York City. These pieces come from one of the largest collections of New York street art, each speaking their own story in a electrifying way, uniquely cultivated by the conditions from which it was created.
Though mainstream New York’s fascination of graffiti faded with time, James Wong’s passion for this art form persisted and in 1989, he opened his own Museum of American Graffiti on Bond Street. Although this endeavor of his remained open for just a short 6 months, the resurgence of Wong’s collection in the Museum of the City of New York today speaks to the vivacious resilience of the nature of graffiti.
All images courtesy The Museum of the City of New York