Futura (graffiti artist)

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Leonard Hilton McGurr

(1955-11-17) November 17, 1955 (age 63)
Known forGraffiti

Leonard Hilton McGurr (born 17 November 1955), known as Futura, and formerly known as "Futura 2000",[1] is an American graffiti artist.[2][3][4]


He started to paint illegally on New York City's subway in the early 1970s, working with other artists such as ALI. In the early 1980s he showed with Patti Astor at the Fun Gallery, along with Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Richard Hambleton and Kenny Scharf.

Futura painted backdrops live on-stage for British punk rock band The Clash's 1981 European tour.[5] In 1985, he was on the first meeting of the graffiti and urban art movement in Bondy (France), on the VLP's initiative, with Speedy Graphito, Miss Tic, SP 38, Epsylon Point, Blek le rat, Jef Aérosol, Nuklé-Art, Kim Prisu, Banlieue-Banlieue. More recently, he is a successful graphic designer and gallery artist.

One of the most distinctive features of Futura's work is his abstract approach to graffiti art. While the primary focus, during the 1980s, of the majority of graffiti artists was lettering, Futura pioneered abstract street art, which has since become more popular. Conversely, his aerosol strokes are regarded as different from those of his peers, as they are as thin as the fine lines usually associated with the use of an airbrush.

While he is primarily known as a graffiti artist, much of his work is as an illustrator and graphic designer of album covers, first becoming involved with The Clash; producing a sleeve for their "This Is Radio Clash" 7" single and handwriting the sleeve notes and lyrics sheet for their album Combat Rock (1982). He also toured extensively with The Clash during the Combat Rock tours, "performing" with them on stage by spray painting backdrops whilst the band performed.

Years later James Lavelle resurrected Futura's career by getting him, alongside Ben Drury, to produce the artwork for several releases on Mo' Wax records; this also led to Futura producing the imagery which has largely defined Lavelle's Unkle project.

During the 1990s he was involved with clothing companies such as GFS, Subware and Project Dragon. More recently much of Futura's artwork has evolved into the production of collectible toys, sneakers; and a diverse range of creative media, working with Recon, Nike, The North Face, Medicom Toy, Undercover, Supreme, Levi's and A Bathing Ape.

Futura also designs his own clothing under the label Futura Laboratories with a store located in Fukuoka, Japan.

His 2012 exhibition Future-Shock was curated by Nemo Librizzi and shown by Andy Valmorbida in New York City. Past galleries who have organized one man exhibitions include Fun Gallery, Tony Shafrazi Gallery, Philippe Briet Gallery, Galerie du Jour Agnès B., and Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont. Museum exhibitions include New York / New Wave at PS1 (1981), Coming from the Subway at Groninger Museum (1992), Beautiful Losers (2004) and Art in the Streets at Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2011).[6]

In 2012, Futura designed the special edition Hennessy V.S. bottle.


  • 1981: Events, Artist invite Artists. New York, USA: New Museum. Text by Betty Fox. The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York
  • 1983: New Art at the Tate Gallery. Text by Michael Compton. Tate Gallery, London
  • 1987: Spraycan Art. Texts by Henry Chalfant, James Prigoff, Thames & Hudson
  • 1987: New York Now. Texts by Carl Haenlein. Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hanovre, Germany
  • 1988: Subway Art. Texts by Martha Cooper et Henry Chalfant. Holt Paperbacks
  • 1989: Futura 2000: Oeuvres Récentes. Texts by Elisabeth Hess, Musée by Vire, France
  • 1992: Coming from the Subway - New York Graffiti Art. Stefan Eins et alt. Karl Muller Verlag
  • 1997: New York Graffiti Art: Coming From The Subway: Histoire et Developpement d’un Mouvement Controverse. Farthest Star, VBI, 1992, VBI 1997
  • 1998: Generations of youth: youth cultures and history in twentieth-century America. Texts by Joe Austin, Michael Willard, NYU Press
  • 1999: Pittura Dura: Dal Graffitismo alla Street Art. Texts by Luca Massimo Barbero, Renato Barilli et alt. Electa, Milan, Italy
  • 2000: Futura. Texts by Ben Drury, Liz Farrelly, Andrew Holmes. Booth-Clibborn. ISBN 978-1861541345.
  • 2000: The new beats: culture, musique et attitudes du hip-hop. Texts by S. H. Fernando. Kargo
  • 2001: The graffiti subculture: youth, masculinity, and identity in London and New York. Texts by Nancy Macdonald, Palgrave Macmillan
  • 2002: Aerosol Kingdom – Subway Painters of New York City. Texts by Ivor L. Miller. University Press of Mississippi, Jackson, USA
  • 2004: Disruptive Pattern Material: An Encyclopedia of Camouflage. Texts by Hardy Blechman, Alex Newman. Firefly, USA
  • 2004: Experimental formats & packaging: creative solutions for inspiring graphic design. Texts by Roger Fawcett-Tang, Daniel Mason, Rotovision
  • 2004: DPM - Disruptive Pattern Material. Texts by Hardy Blechman, Alex Newman. Frances Lincoln
  • 2004: Beautiful Losers – Contemporary Art and Street Culture. Texts by Alex Baker, Thom Collins, Jeffrey Deitch et alt., Aaron Rose et Christian Strike, New York
  • 2005: East Village USA. texts by Dan Cameron, Liza Kirwin, Alan W. Moore, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York
  • 2006: Can´t stop won´t stop: une histoire by la génération hip-hop. Texts by Jeff Chang. Allia
  • 2006: Plastic culture: how Japanese toys conquered the world. Texts by Woodrow Phoenix, Kodansha International
  • 2007: The Warhol economy: how fashion, art, and music drive New York City. Texts by Elizabeth Currid, Princeton University Press
  • 2008: Street Art: The Graffiti Revolution. Texts by Cedar Lewisohn, Tate, London
  • 2008: The Elms Lesters Book and Christmas Exhibition. Texts by Ben Jones, Paul Jones et alt. Elms Lesters Paintings Rooms, London
  • 2009: Subway Art: 25th Anniversary Edition. Texts by Martha Cooper, Henry Chalfant, Chronicle Books
  • 2009: American Graffiti. Margo Thompson. Parkstone
  • 2009: Graffiti New York. Texts by Eric Felisbret, James Prigoff, Luke Felisbret, Abrams
  • 2009: Natural Selection. Texts by Fiona McKinnon, Iain Cadby, Atkinson Gallery, Somerset, UK
  • 2009: Blade - King of Kings. Henk Pijnenburg, Henk Pijnenburg
  • 2009: Né dans la rue: Graffiti. Texts by Hervé Chandes, Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, Paris
  • 2009: From Style Writing to Art (A Street Art Anthology). Texts by Magda Danysz, Marie-Noëlle Dana, Galerie Magda Danysz, Paris, Drago, Italy
  • 2010: Beyond the Street: The 100 Leading Figures in Urban Art. Texts by Patrick Nguyen, Stuart Mackenzie, Die Gestalten Verlag
  • 2011: 100 artistes du Street Art. With direction by Paul Ardenne. Texts by Marie Maertens. Martinière, Paris
  • 2012: Is The Art World Ready for Graffiti?. Steven Hager, Steven Hager at Smashwords, Los Gatos, USA
  • 2012: Graffiti, une histoire en images. Bernard Fontaine. Eyrolles, Paris
  • 2012: Futura 2012 – Expansions. Text by Paul Ardenne, Galerie Jérôme by Noirmont, Paris

Solo exhibitions[edit]


Futura's work is held in the following permanent public collections:

  • Collection de la Société Générale, New York
  • Fonds Municipal d´Art Contemporain de la Ville de Paris, Paris
  • Musée de Vire, Vire, France
  • Museo de Arte Moderna di Bologna, Bologna, Italia

Appearances in other media[edit]


  1. ^ "Futura Reflects on the Past - Page". Interview Magazine. Retrieved 2014-05-20.
  2. ^ Bike NYC: The Cyclist's Guide to New York City Ed Glazar, Marci Blackman, Michael Green - 2011 1628730021 Famous OG writers who've tattooed these walls, graff artists that have been around since the beginning, include Cope2 (alias Fernando Carlo)—the South Bronx native who grabbed mainstream attention with his 2005 Time magazine billboard ad on the side of a building in Soho; Futura 2000 (Leonard Hilton McGurr)—an oldschool bike messenger, recently commissioned to paint a limited edition track bike designed and produced by master frame builder Ernesto Colnago; and the ...
  3. ^ Guerilla art - Sebastian Peiter, Goetz Werner - 2009 - 185669593X Page 14 When Private Leonard Hilton McGurr returned to the Big Apple, he put his military skills to good use by trespassing in the yards of the Metropolitan Transport Authorities, bombing trains and city walls with other artists such as Ali, Duro and Dondi. In the early days of graffiti, Futura developed his distinctive style. While most writers focused on lettering and elaborate name tagging, Futura pioneered an abstract spray-paint approach with aerosol strokes as thin as airbrush lines. Futura's ...
  4. ^ Christophe Deniau - 2016 Downtown Manhattan 78-82: De la no wave aux dancefloors 2367230943 La carrière de Futura 2000 (de son vrai nom Leonard Hilton McGurr) était alors en pleine ascension. Celuici s'était fait remarquer très jeune comme writer sur les rames de métro. Après des études à la School for Visual Arts afin d'y apprendre l'imprimerie, il va rapidement trouver son inspiration dans le métro de New York. Avec un style tout d'abord classique et tourné vers le lettrage, sa technique va s'affirmer par la suite et évoluer vers un style proche de celui de l'abstraction lyrique, ...
  5. ^ Futura; Fab 5 Freddy "Futura Talks With Fab 5 Freddy" Art In the Streets. Skira Rizzoli/ MOCA, 2011
  6. ^ "Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont - Galeries d´art France Paris". Denoirmont.com. Archived from the original on 2013-05-16. Retrieved 2014-05-20.
  7. ^ "Exposition - FUTURA 2000 à l’École Spéciale - Collection Patrick Lerouge", Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture. Accessed 28 October 2017
  8. ^ http://magdagallery.com/fr/artistes/expositions/62/futura
  9. ^ "Futura 2000 - The Escapades Of Futura 2000 (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. 2003-01-09. Retrieved 2014-05-20.
  10. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUgglbG4mKI https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUgglbG4mKI

External links[edit]