10 Questions for Kenny Scharf

Kenny Scharf

By Jose Fresco

AOM: Kenny, first time I put graffiti and art in the same sentence was back in the New York glory days of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Harring, and yourself during the 80’s. And there was that famous New Yorker article on Taki 183 in 1971, but when would you pinpoint when graffiti art started to be taken seriously by the art world?

KS: I’m not sure that graffiti is taken seriously by the art world but the first time I became aware of graffiti’s potential for art statement was either tagging with Basquiat back in 78 or maybe the Times Square show of 81.

AOM: Who and what are your biggest influences?

KS: I love so much art! I was very inspired by the pop artists like Warhol, and Rosenquist, the surrealists like Tanguy and Dali> abstract Expressionists like Pollock. I also love the medieval fantastical work of Bosch and Bruegel as well.

AOM: You and Miami have a long time love affair. What keeps bringing you back? When will we see you again?

KS: I lived in Miami in the 90s I always love the sea the most! Lately I’m here every year for the art fair.

AOM: What was it like collaborating with the likes of Futura, Shepard Fairy, and Swoon on the Wynwood Walls?

KS: Futura and I have had a long history together we showed together at Fun Gallery in the early 80s and also shared the Tony Shafrazi Gallery for a joint show in 82. As far as the Wynwood Walls, it was cool having all the artists working at the same time but as far as collaborating it was really more like a group show where everyone has their own spot. Nice hearing Lenny’s music and smoking his joints.

AOM: Your piece Bowery Boogie on Houston (NYC) got bombed pretty badly again. Do you consider this an insult or homage?

KS: the wall on Houston has been cleared of all tagging for a while. I don’t like it. Who likes having their art tagged on? It wasn’t out of love or respect it was more angry, jealous and ugly.

AOM: What is “Wild style”?

KS: Wild style is the culmination of graffiti taken to a new level of sophistication and artfulness. It is high style in the extreme!

AOM: Your recent show at LA’s MOCA was a huge success, loved the black light installations- reminds me of your early SoBe days. Does anything in particular stand out about the experience?

KS: I am happy and proud to be a part of such an amazing show. The level of talent is amazing!

AOM: Have we reached a highpoint in Graffiti art ? Is there still more to look out for?

KS: I think we are at a high point in the stylistic excess of graffiti but I definitely think there is more to come. There is so much youth and energy surrounding it its impossible for it not to keep expanding!

AOM: Who should we keep an eye out for as a rising star?

KS: I really don’t know but I did see so much amazing art at MOCA of people I wasn’t familiar with. I liked the Cholo L.A. section a lot with Mr Cartoon.

AOM: What’s your brand of spray paint?

KS: I used to use only Krylon but they ruined it so I have to say the Montana gold makes painting pretty easy and the colors are great.

AOM: Hey, thanks for being part of Art Out Miami and one of the true Godfathers of Graffiti Art.

KS: You’re welcome.

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