Futura (American, b.1955)
Birth Place: New York, NY USA
Who is painter and graffiti artist Futura?
Futura is an American graffiti artist who is best known for his work with the Fun Gallery in the early 1980s. He has had several monikers throughout his career, including Futura 2000 and his birth name of Lenny McGurr. He is one of the pioneers of spray paint art and should be considered in the same sentence with other luminaries from this time period like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Futura has enjoyed much commercial success, starting with his painted backdrops during the 1981 European tour with the band The Clash.
Futura has done much to mix the worlds of art and commerce. He’s collaborated with some of the biggest brands in the world. He’s worked with Nike, The North Face, Supreme, Levi’s, and A Bathing Ape. This culminated in his own clothing label, Futura Laboratories, which opened a store in Fukuoka, Japan. His work has appeared in exhibitions at the Fun Gallery, Shafrazi Gallery, Magda Danysz Gallery in Paris, and the Phillippe Briet Gallery.
What kind of art does Futura make?
Futura makes graffiti and urban art-inspired creations. Starting as a graffiti artist in the 1970s in New York City, Futura has grown to encompass everything that urban art stands for in the twenty-first century. That means fashion, illustration, album artwork, toys, and sneakers. The last of these led to him being featured in the famed 2005 sneaker documentary, Just for Kicks. Though he has enjoyed large commercial success, Futura’s work still feels fresh, and in many ways subversive. His work is often abstract -- especially compared to his peers. His aerosol strokes are instantly recognizable, fine lines that show a complete mastery of the form.
How did painter Futura get started?
As with many graffiti and urban artists, Futura’s life as an artist started by illegally painting New York city subway cars in the 1970s. He worked with several notable graffiti artists of that time, most notably ALI. This led to him meeting the actress, Patti Astor, who agreed to co-produce a show with the young Futura at the Fun Gallery in New York. This would be a ground-breaking exhibition, featuring other young luminaries like Keith Haring, Basquiat, and Kenny Scharf. Futura’s name soon began to explode. He was offered the chance to paint live backdrops during The Clash’s 1981 tour of Europe -- which led to him being an influential force in the early graffiti art movement in France at that time.
How much are Futura paintings worth?
Futura is one of the premier graffiti artists in the world, his paintings often go at auction for several thousands of dollars on the low end to more than $100,000 on the high end. The most ever paid for a Futura painting at auction is $112,500 for the piece We Saw the Difference (1985) which sold on July 19th, 2020. This recent development shows that Futura’s worth is just starting to be understood by the wider art community. He is a contemporary of other luminaries like Keith Haring and Basquiat, and it wouldn’t be surprising if his paintings are held in the same esteem by collectors in the coming years. They represent a significant opportunity for the savvy collector.
Where to buy Futura paintings for sale?
See the works for sale below. Why buy from Heritage? Art buyers feel confident because our experts know the market and put careful valuations on the artwork for sale. We make the bidding process easier to help you expand your art collection.
How to value Futura paintings?
The best way to value art is to compare past auction prices for similar works. View past sale prices below. When you’re ready to sell, contact Heritage Auctions to request an auction estimate of the likely selling price at auction. If you need a formal written appraisal for estate planning or insurance, please contact our Appraisal Services Department.
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How do you know what's valuable?
Our Art Value Guide provides free information about how to value your Futura Artwork.