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Top 7 Famous Graffiti Artists

Thanks to the commitment of early graffiti artists (also known as writers), graffiti art is now recognized for what it is: a vital form of artistic, as well as cultural, expression. Many contemporary artists benefit from the dedication of early writers who bore the burden of having their art exist as an illegal activity. Who are these early pioneers and what are they up to now (March 2005)? We've compiled a list of graf artists who not only paved the way... they became famous in the process.

1) Lee Quiñones aka LEE

As the youngest member of the seminal New York graf crew "The Fabulous Five," Lee became famous for being one of two graffiti artists to successfully bomb an entire subway train. That was ten cars in all, from top to bottom and end to end. Lee also starred in the film Wild Style and currently is one of the most internationally acclaimed graf artists with back order works going for tens of thousands. He is considered to be one of the founding fathers of the Graffiti Movement in contemporary art.

2) Sandra Fabara aka Lady Pink

Lady Pink became famous as one of the stars of Wild Style and is considered an icon in graffiti/hip-hop culture. She is one of the few original female graffiti artists who made a name for herself as a writer to be contended with. She is a highly sought after corporate artist, owns her own mural company, and even appeared on the Donald Trump reality show The Apprentice.

3) Futura 2000

Futura 2000 was one of the first graffiti artists to start bombing the New York IRT trains in the early 1970s. In the 80s he was embraced by the European art world and made a name for himself with his highly stylized, abstract expression. He later made a comeback in 1980 when he released a record called "Futura 2000 and His Escapades." On it, he rapped and was backed up by rock icons The Clash. He continues to show his works around the world, and his art is revered in Europe and Japan.

4) Jeffrey aka Doze Green

In 1977, he joined the world famous Rock Steady Crew, which appeared in major movies such as Wildstyle, Flashdance and Style Wars. In 1982 Doze showed his artwork in a well known group show at the Fun Gallery. He went on to designing for clothing lines like Kikwear and Ecko and became a major player in the avant-garde "fusionistic" art movement. He's been featured in dozens of art gallery exhibitions and has been commisioned by select coporate clients to create advertising murals.

5) Melvin Samuels Jr. aka NOC 167

A member of one of the influential The Death Squad, NOC 167 later helped developed "wild style," which influenced many other writers. His famous car, entitled "Style Wars" - considered one of the best subway cars ever painted - was reproduced in 1991's High and Low exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. He fell into mental illness and drug addiction in the early 80s, just to be "re-discovered" in a New York men's shelter. He is now showing new work and experimenting with new techniques.

6) Donald J. White aka "Dondi" 1961-1998

Dondi became an influential part of the 80s graffiti renaissance and exhibited throughout the East Village with the likes of Futura 2000, Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Fab-Five Freddie. He passed away in 1998 due to complications arising from AIDS.

7) Frederick Braithwaite aka Fab-Five Freddie

His most famous subway painting was created in 1979 with Lee and evoked Andy Warhol's Campbell's soup cans. He's best known as one of the first true hip-hop celebrities. He consistently used his fame to promote hip-hop culture. He hosted Yo! MTV Raps, produced music videos for KRS One, Snoop Dogg and Queen Latifah and starred in Wild Style, just to name a few accomplishments. He continues to be in the spotlight and is considered to be an expert of hip-hop history.
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