Curated by Jeffrey Deitch, City As Studio, China’s first major exhibition of graffiti and street art opens at K11 MUSEA this Spring. Running from 20 March to 14 May 2023 to coincide with Art Basel Hong Kong, the monumental exhibition will feature over 100 works by more than 30 artists, showcasing the breadth and depth of the graffiti and street art scene across generations, styles and geographies.
City As Studio traces the global history of graffiti and street art from its emergence in the subway yards and parking lots of 1970s New York to its rise as a worldwide phenomenon. It begins with the movement’s pivotal innovators such as Fab 5 Freddy, FUTURA and Jean-Michel Basquiat who were part of the dialogue and the Downtown art scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and goes on to highlight artists such as Barry McGee, Mister Cartoon and OSGEMEOS, and the groundbreaking styles they created in San Francisco, East Los Angeles and São Paulo. The exhibition also documents the emergence and evolution of artists such as KAWS and AIKO who represent a younger generation of New York street artists.
Highlights include Basquiat’s Valentine (1984) alongside works by other seminal artists such as The Bomb (1983) by CRASH and Untitled (1983), a spray painting by Keith Haring spanning three metres. Portraits such as Keith Haring (Red) (2010) and Basquiat (Red) (2010) by Shepard Fairey demonstrate how early practitioners of the genre continue to inspire younger artists, while FUTURA’s work El Diablo (1985) – part of KAWS’ personal collection – exemplifies the intergenerational dialogue and influence between street artists working today. JR’s work Eye Contact #13 (2018) evokes old school rail yards as model trains on tiny tracks move back and forth, creating an optical illusion on each run. Examining how the movement shaped other genres, the exhibition will also display works such as Charlie Ahearn’s film Juanito, which captures the story of his twin, sculptor John Ahearn making casts of people in Bronx and immortalising them in plaster. Elsewhere, works by AIKO and Lady Pink will explore how female artists responded and contributed to a genre traditionally dominated by men.
City As Studio will also present a series of compelling photographs by leading figures such as Gusmano Cesaretti, Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper that document the artistry and urban impact of street artists in the 1970s and 80s.
To accompany the exhibition, K11 Art Foundation will present a diverse range of events and activities, including talks, screenings, audio guides, docent-led tours, and an education corner featuring online learning resources and an interactive graffiti tagging activity, and more-for visitors across all ages and seek to enrich the exhibition viewing experience and deepen understanding of street art online and offline. To further enrich the visiting experience, a special edition of TÖÖF cards with fun art facts printed on the back will be introduced to inspire visitors as they navigate the exhibition.
About K11 Art Foundation
Founded by Adrian Cheng in 2010, K11 Art Foundation is a non-profit organisation in Hong Kong dedicated to fostering the development of Chinese contemporary art. The foundation is committed to supporting artists through K11 Art Foundation’s exhibitions, artist residencies, and educational programmes. It also actively establish partnerships with leading art and cultural institutions around the world, collaborating with curators and other industry specialists to create impactful cross-cultural exchange and contribute to the expanding global contemporary art discourse.