Born in 1955 in New York. Lives and works in New York.
Leonard McGurr, known as FUTURA 2000, is one of the most famous graffiti US artist, internationally acclaimed. While being a key figure of the movement, he was also one of the first to pass from the street’s walls to the galleries’.
Raised in New York by an Irish father and a French-American mother, he enrolled at the School for Visual Arts to learn printing techniques. First interested in lettering, he finds his inspiration in the New York subway tunnels trying out several pseudonyms. By the early 70s, he began painting rail cars of Brooklyn subway with different groups such as UGA (United Graffiti Artists), 3.Y.B, C.I.A., F.B.I, Interpol, K.G.B, and sees frequently other great names of the graffiti world: Ali, Dondi White, Lee, Seen…
In 1973, his compulsive desire to paint ends up after an accident in the subway. FUTURA 2000 gives up the graffiti and enlists in the U.S. Navy. As he returns to New York in 1979, he goes back to his life of « writer » and creates with Ali the collective Souls Artists of Zoo York. His style evolves and changes from the work on letters to a lyrical abstraction that combines geometric symbols, architectural and sometimes figurative elements. Thus, his art sets progressively itself apart from the traditional graffiti iconography.
Almost instinctively, he leaves the subway to exhibit his works on canvas in alternative spaces like Fashion Moda in 1980, then in established galleries like Tony Shafrazi (1983) and Sydney Janis (1984). In 1981, he toured with The Clash in Europe, performing with them “live” on stage and covering the backdrop of the British punk band scene with its intense and light graffiti.
His first group exhibition is held in 1981 at the SA Alternative Space in New York. The same year he participated alongside Basquiat, Haring, Warhol, Kenny Scharf and also Rammellzee, Crash and Dondi White, to the famous PS1 Contemporary Art Center exhibition, « New York / New Wave ».
In 1982 the Fun Gallery holds his first solo exhibition, just like Basquiat the same year and Keith Haring the following year. From then on, he exhibits throughout the world and participates in several major museum exhibitions devoted to graffiti: at the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam, Netherlands, at the Tate Gallery in London, as well as Hanover, Munich, Hong-Kong and Tokyo.
In the 1990s, he participates in numerous exhibitions both in galleries and institutions: at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris (1991), at the Groningen Museum in the Netherlands (1992), at the Musée des Beaux Arts in Tourcoing (1996), and also in Paris at the Galerie du Jour Agnès b., and in New York at Michael Kohn Gallery and Philippe Briet Gallery.
Meanwhile, from the mid-90s on, he develops his visual concept on the emerging Internet. He creates his own website with hundreds of pages. More recently he posts his photographs day by day on Flickr, a medium that thus became essential in his plastic research. Such everyday images reflect his own vision of the world, his experiences, his travels, and open up to his parallel and impertinent world.
Immersed in the hip-hop culture which is inseparable from graffiti, FUTURA 2000 invests a large variety of other fields and explores new areas of creativity: he devotes his inventiveness to independent music labels like Mo’Wax, the famous trip hop/hip-hop leading label by the late 90s; he creates several brands of streetwear, Recon, Project Dragon and Futura Laboratories, collaborating with Nike, Bathing Ape, Zoo York, Maharashi…
As a creative and visionary artist, he is at the origin of the craze for the « Art-toys », those collectible toys highly prized in Japan initially and now in the whole world. He diverts the iconic characters (Pointman, Nosferatus) he created on the walls of New York into popular figurines. An artistic approach that never leaves away the urban culture, accessible to all by nature.
Versatile and genius, he does not however abandon the canvas, his new works throw us with the same impertinence into a sensitive universe still driven by its color games, just like in his recent creations featuring Lego futuristic cities…