Throughout the 1980s, New York painter and burgeoning graffiti scene-advocate Martin Wong began to acquire work by some of the most prolific artists of that time. It was an era when graffiti wasn’t exactly held in the highest esteem by the “art” world, but that didn’t turn Wong away and he began collecting pieces by the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Christopher “Daze” Ellis, FUTURA 2000, Keith Haring, LADY PINK and Lee Quiñones, when these artists were still in the early stages of their own careers.

The pieces — some of canvas and others on paper — are an incredible documentation of the changing artistic practice at the time, and lucky for us all, Wong gifted the entire collection to the Museum of the City of New York in 1994. Wong tragically died of AIDS in ’99, but his preservation of the graffiti art of that period continues as the MCNY is finally set to reveal the collection with a new exhibition, City As Canvas: New York City Graffiti from the Martin Wong Collection on February 4th. Don’t miss out.

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