Leonard Hilton McGurr
November 17, 1955
New York, USA
One of the founding fathers and key players of the graffiti movement, New York born and bred Futura grew up in Brooklyn in the early 1970s during the heyday of trainbombing. He started out tagging subway walls under the superhero pseudonym Futura 2000 (an ode to his favorite movie 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick), and would go on to paint an entire subway train pioneering a radically expressive, signature style. This gained him a lot of traction and would become a catalyst, introducing a more abstract approach to graffiti and a shift away from the formerly letter-based art form.
Together with the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Dondi White he belonged to a new generation of NYC artists. Today, something of a living legend, Futura is an acclaimed illustrator, photographer, sculptor, fashion and graphic designer who continues to straddle the line between street, commercial and fine art.
Futura joins British punk band The Clash on their Europe tour painting backdrops live on-stage, also designing the record sleeve for the single “This Is Radio Clash.”
As fellow contemporary artist Keith Haring opens his Pop Shop in downtown Manhattan, Futura teams up with Haring to create custom screen-printed T-shirts.
With the advent of streetwear as we know it, Futura works on a number of graffiti-influenced labels such as GFS (Gerb, Futura, and Stash), Project Dragon (a collaboration between Bleu, Stash, and Futura), and Subware, a brand drawing on graffiti aesthetics and trainbombing. Later he will go on to collaborate with BAPE for a number of products – most notably the Spray Can T-shirt series.
Futura designs the cover art for Psyence Fiction, the debut album of electronica outfit UNKLE on Mo’ Wax Records. It becomes one of his most recognizable motifs: the Pointman – a robotic figure resembling a spaceship. The subsequent success of the album spawns Japanese toy-manufacturer MediCom to produce collectable Pointman-toys, with notable collaborators: Bathing Ape, Nike and Levi’s
On the back of this, the now cult-declared Futura Laboratories clothing imprint is launched with a flagship store in Fukuoka, Japan. Futura also teams up with Maharishi the following year creating jackets, pants and customized Futura camouflage prints.
Having already collaborated with numerous footwear brands throughout the years, in 2004 he works on the Nike SB Dunk “FLOM” (For Love or Money). He also adorns a number of Converse Chuck Taylors with his abstract expressionist-style prints.
Futura collaborates with Supreme and Levi’s for a limited line, including 501® jeans with an original hand-drawn character called “”39Meg”” and a 1967 model jean jacket.
His first exhibition in 10 years, Future-Shock, is shown in Soho, New York City, curated by Nemo Librizzi and shown by Andy Valmorbida. Futura teams up with Hennessy V.S designing a special edition bottle of cognac.
A new collaboration with Uniqlo and a range of T-shirts is announced by Futura.
One of his largest solo exhibitions to date, “”Futura: The 5 Elements”” opens at Urban Spree in Berlin with more than 60 original paintings.
After an eight-year hiatus, Futura Laboratories is revived in May with a collection exclusively sold at Dover Street Market Singapore, followed by launches at the retailer’s Beijing, London, Los Angeles, New York, and Tokyo locations in July.
His debut solo exhibition in South East Asia, Constellation, opens in Singapore showcasing 30 specifically commissioned artworks.
Premier art exhibition BEYOND THE STREETS takes place in Brooklyn, NY in June featuring over 150 acclaimed artists, including Futura, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Takashi Murakami and many more.