|Born||1960 (age 60–61)|
|Known for||Graffiti, Painting|
|”Honest George” (2009)|
|Patron(s)||El Museo del Barrio|
Whitney Museum of Art
Museum of the City New York
Groninger Museum (Groningen, Netherlands)
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam, Netherlands)
George Lee Quiñones (born 1960) is a Puerto Rican artist and actor. Quiñones rose to prominence by creating massive New York City subway car graffiti that carried his moniker "LEE". His style is rooted in popular culture and often with political messages.
Early life and career
Quiñones was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and raised in the Lower East Side section of Manhattan. He started drawing at the age of five, and started doing subway graffiti in 1974. By 1976, Lee was creating huge murals of graffiti art across the subway system. As a subway graffiti artist, Lee almost exclusively painted whole cars, all together about 125 cars. He was the major contributor to one of the first-ever whole-trains, along with DOC, MONO and SLAVE, the core members of The Fabulous Five crew, which also included DIRTY SLUG. It was the first ever whole-train to run in traffic.
In November 1976, ten subway cars were painted with a range of colorful murals and set a new benchmark for the scale of graffiti works. This is documented in an interview with Quiñones in the book Getting up by Craig Castleman, MIT Press (MA) (October 1982). "The Hell Express", "Earth is Hell, Heaven is Life", "Stop the Bomb" are some of Quiñones paintings that ran for months. Quiñones pieces were left untouched by other writers and some of them ran for years even though thousands of writers were painting on subway cars at that time.
Quiñones often added poetic messages in his pieces, such as "Graffiti is art and if art is a crime, please God, forgive me". Lee also painted huge handball court murals in his neighborhood, for instance “Howard the Duck,” the first whole handball court mural, in the spring of 1978 outside of his old high school, Corlears Junior High School #56. Around this time he befriended Brooklyn-based Fred Braithwaite, who later became known as Fab Five Freddy. In December 1979, Claudio Bruni, an art collector and heir to the Bruni wine fortune, offered Quiñones and Fab Five Freddy their first show at his Galleria La Medusa in Rome, Italy. By 1985, Quiñones was described as a legend among other graffiti artists.
In the 1980s, Quiñones began appearing in films. He starred as Raymond Zoro i Charlie Ahearn's film Wild Style (1983). He also has a cameo in Blondie's promo video of the song "Rapture." Quiñones played Sammy in Rosemary Rodriguez's Acts of Worship (2001). He plays himself in Adam Bhala Lough's Bomb the System (2002). He also appears in Videograf 10.
His paintings are housed in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of Art, the Museum of the City New York, the Groninger Museum (Groningen, Netherlands) and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam, Netherlands), and have been exhibited at the New Museum Of Contemporary Art (New York City), the Museum of National Monuments (Paris, France) and the Staatliche Museum (Germany). Pictures of his years as graffiti writer are featured in the books Subway Art, Spraycan Art., "The Birth of Graffiti", "Getting up" and "Graffiti Kings: New York City Mass Transit Art of the 1970s".
Quiñones is featured in the documentary Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat, which premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.
- Art Review: Artists Whose Vitality Flows From the Streets. Holland Cotter. The New York Times. "Art & Design." 16 June 2011. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
- About. Lee Quiñones. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
- Damon Darlin. "Cincinnati's Art Work is Excited by Manhattan's 'Raw Nozzle' Style." The Wall Street Journal. March 23, 1983. Page 23.
- Gastman, R. and Neelon, C. (2010). The history of American graffiti. New York: Harper Design.
- "Lee Quiñones by Luc Sante". BOMB Magazine. August 14, 2019. Retrieved 2020-08-10.
- Ventura, Michael. (1985). Shadow dancing in the U.S.A. (1st ed.). Los Angeles: J.P. Tarcher. p. 187. ISBN 0874773725. OCLC 12313027.
Lee Quinones, a legend among "the graffiti writers,"
- Scott, A. O. (October 5, 1983), "On the Edge of the Neo-70's", New York Times.
- George Lee Quiñones IMDB database. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
- Burr, Ty (August 26, 2005), "'Bomb' flickers but fails to ignite", Boston Globe.
- "Answers From a Graffiti Artist". New York Times. March 3, 2010.
- Swarm, Daily (March 28, 2008). "Eric Clapton Buys Entire $120,000 Collection Of Graffiti Art". HuffPost. Retrieved 2020-08-10.
- New York: Henry Holt & Co, 1984
- London: Thames and Hudson, 1987, Chalfant and Prigoff.
- "The Artist's Way: Lee Quinones". BET.com.
- N'Duka, Amanda (September 8, 2017). "'Boom For Real' Clip: Sara Driver's Documentary On Famed Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat – Toronto". Deadline. Retrieved 2020-08-10.
- Desk, BWW News. "Graffiti Artist Lee Quinones in BOOM FOR REAL The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Opens 5/11". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2020-08-10.
- Mizota, Sharon (February 18, 2019). "Lee Quiñones is famous for his graffiti. An L.A. exhibition shows the artist to be more". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
- Sokol, Brett (July 10, 2018). "Lee Quiñones Brings Street Art to His Living Room". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 March 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)