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Futura 2000


Born: He was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1955. His real name is Benny Blanco (according to his website) or Lenny McGurr (according to an interview with the New York Times), pick whichever name you like best, you've now entered the world of Futura 2000.

How it all began: As a boy, Futura enjoyed hanging out in the subway, and claims there were many others like him who felt at home there, too. At the time, there was no graffiti art as we know it today. There were taggers who wrote their tags as well as words such as "pray" all around town. When he saw tags on trains in 1971, though, it all clicked for him. "It makes perfect sense that the subway system would literally become the "vehicle," he later said in an interview. "It just happened, it invited it. Suddenly graffiti wasn't limited to tenement halls, school yard walls, and bathroom stalls. Graffiti had found the speed at which it needed to be seen." Futura saw the connection between this form of communication and speed. Subway graffiti kept in step with the quickened pace of information sharing. He started tagging trains, but, according to him, he didn't feel confident enough to do pieces on the outside of subway cars yet. As he put it:

"What had started out as playing in subway tunnels had progressed into midnight forays deep in the interiors of the system."

How he got his nickname: "My name just came to me one day, a combination of my favorite film, (2001 A Space Odyssey) by Stanley Kubrick, and the Futura typeface. Futura represented, obviously the future, and the 2000 was a projection of that thought."Inspiration: Futura 2000 was inspired by a Fall 1972 New York Magazine article which focused on graffiti. He showed it to his skeptical mom and even though she saw no art in graffiti, she allowed him to explore. As a result, Futura became one of the first graffiti artists who took the expression beyond tagging to the art as we know it.Little known fact: On Labor Day weekend, 1973, Futura and another artist ventured into the No.1 train tunnel located between 137th St. and 145th St, in Harlem. They carried a duffel-bag with more than 50 cans of spray paint, and had plans to paint the 6 trains that were in the tunnel.

After working for some time, though, they realized things were not going to happen according to their plan.

"At some point we heard sweepers moving through the trains, which meant that some of those cars were going to be pulled out of the tunnel," Futura explained. "We had calculated on a holiday weekend, but didn't realize the holiday was over, and these trains were getting ready to roll for the weekday rush."

The two boys had no time to think. They knew if they got caught there would be a lot of trouble, but they had no idea how much danger they were really in.

"When the lights of the train went on we immediately froze," he continued. "What would it be, a raid, a high speed foot race? Not realizing that the track had gone "live," we were not ready for what happened next."

"Suddenly there was this enormous flash and the next thing I saw was a ball of fire that had engulfed my friend instantly. Defective paint, mysterious spark, or fate dealing the cards...what is certain, is that my life would never be the same again."

Career highlights: Futura went on to become a hot commodity in the 80s when the commercial art world took an interest in exploiting graffiti. He was the rage of the East Village art scene along with Lee, Fab 5 Freddy and other artists, as well as becoming popular in Europe. Futura credits Europeans with embracing graffiti as an artform way before the American art establishment recognized it as valid folk art and fine art. Futura is known throughout the world as an abstract artist and has exhibited in cities such as Moscow, Seoul, Rome, Tokyo, Nairobi, Barcelona, Sydney, Berlin, London, Amsterdam, and Paris, just to name a few. In 1982, he put out a record with himself rhyming called "Futura 2000 and His Escapades" with music done by punk rock icons the Clash.
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