FUTURA2000 Breaks Out on Elmwood Avenue

In coordination with the Buffalo AKG Art Museum’s renowned Public Art Initiative, foundational street artist FUTURA2000 (born Leonard Hilton McGurr) is creating a mural on the north façade of Bureau (712 Elmwood Avenue). The mural was painted over Lip Service.

Speaking, to a couple of representatives from the AKG, it was readily apparent just how exciting it is to have FUTURA2000 in Buffalo painting this piece. While the artist is considered highly prolific, painting a mural in advance of an exhibition is highly unusual.

FUTURA2000: Breaking Out, is the first comprehensive retrospective exhibition of the artist’s vast and multivalent career, at the University at Buffalo’s Center for the Arts Gallery and Anderson Gallery on Saturday, September 23.

Not only was FUTURA2000 synonymous with NYC’s graffiti scene in the the late 1970s and early ‘80s, he also managed to hit the road with The Clash, where he painted live graffiti backdrops at concerts. This led the artist to design the sleeve for The Clash single “This Is Radio Clash” and the liner notes and lyrics sheet for Combat Rock.

Photo by Jeff Mace. Courtesy of the Buffalo AKG Art Museum.

“It is a profound honor to work with Futura,” said Buffalo AKG Public Art Project Coordinator Zack Boehler, project manager of the mural and co-curator of FUTURA2000: Breaking Out. “His influence on public art and on art, design, and culture in general is impossible to overstate. Few people have the opportunity to work with one of their idols and doing so has been a humbling privilege. The presence of Futura and his work in Buffalo is a global distinction for the city and a testament to our dynamic cultural landscape.”

“In a truly collaborative effort, the Buffalo AKG Art Museum has concurrently commissioned this mural within the city of Buffalo,” said Robert Scalise, Director of University at Buffalo Art Galleries and co-curator of FUTURA2000: Breaking Out. “The prominent placement of this stunning artwork further amplifies the impact and reach of Futura’s visionary art. The new outdoor masterpiece adds an exciting dimension to the exhibition, as it brings the artist’s dynamic creativity into the public realm.”

Exhibitions of Futura’s work have been presented at The New Museum, New York; MOCA, Los Angeles; the Groninger Museum, the Netherlands; Yvon Lambert, Galerie De Noirmont; the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris. In 2020, the Isamu Noguchi Museum presented FUTURA Akari, an installation of Akari light sculptures customized by Futura; the artist created a large site-specific installation at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris and was included in the exhibition Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip Hop Generation at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Exhibitions of his early work include presentations at Patti Astor’s Fun Gallery and Tony Shafrazi Gallery and MoMA PS1’s landmark 1981 New York/New Wave exhibition. 

In conjunction with FUTURA2000: Breaking Out, which is on view from September 23, 2023 through February 11, 2024, the artist is collaborating with New Era Cap Company (presenting sponsor of the exhibition) and Oxford Pennant on limited-edition merchandise. 

FUTURA2000: Breaking Out is curated by Robert Scalise, UB Art Galleries Director, and Zack Boehler, Buffalo AKG Public Art Project Coordinator. This presentation includes artworks from significant European and American collections. The exhibition is in partnership with Eric Firestone Gallery and the creative and artist management agency ICNCLST/, representing the artist’s fine art and commercial endeavors, respectively. 

Photo by Jeff Mace. Courtesy of the Buffalo AKG Art Museum.

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