Futura2000: Breaking out

detail image from an aerosol painting by FUTURA. abstract sprays of yellow, orange, blue, green and red with a line drawing above that hints towards forms but isn't clearly anything.

FUTURA, Untitled (detail), 1984. Spray paint on canvas, 72 x 432 inches. Collection of The Ohio State University. Courtesy of the Wexner Center for the Arts. ©FUTURA2000


Over his career span of five decades, FUTURA has built a reputation and continues to be an unrelenting innovator. He has inspired and influenced multiple generations of creative purists and polymaths while intersecting his enigmatic oeuvre with various disciplines and remains at the forefront of the cultural zeitgeist. FUTURA2000: Breaking Out is a comprehensive survey featuring paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, studies, collaborations, and archival paraphernalia. The exhibition will also feature new site-specific works. Breaking Out examines one of New York’s most-loved artist’s essential themes and polyphonic output.

FUTURA2000 is the nom de plume of Leonard Hilton McGurr. In his late teens and early twenties, he was an influential figure in early New York City’s formative graffiti-meets-art scene in the 1970s and 1980s, wherein his unique combination of abstraction, pop-culture references, and traditional graffiti elements made him a generational standout in this burgeoning sub-culture. His oft-celebrated and infamous 1980 whole NYC subway car piece, Break Train, was a progressive leap for both the genre—and the artist. He created album art for the iconic punk rock band THE CLASH during the same era. FUTURA was also invited on the band’s 1981 Combat Rock European tour, where he painted captivating, large-scale backdrops behind the band as they performed live to fervent audiences. 

In conjunction with the exhibition, The Buffalo AKG Art Museum Public Art Initiative produced a mural, Bradford Reds, with the street art legend in the weeks leading up to the opening. The mural serves as a lasting memento of this exhibition in Buffalo’s Elmwood Village neighborhood. 


FUTURA2000: Breaking Out is curated by UB Art Galleries Director Robert Scalise and Zack Boehler, Public Art Project Coordinator at the Buffalo AKG Art Museum. This presentation will bring together artwork 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. 

New Era Cap Company is the presenting sponsor of FUTURA2000: Breaking Out. Additional support is provided by M&T Bank, Charles Balbach, and Bronwyn Keenan.