Lee Quinones was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico in 1960, and raised in New York City’s Lower East Side. One of the originators of street art, Lee started painting on New York City’s streets and subway cars in the 1970s. Over the next decade he would paint over 100 whole subways cars throughout the MTA system, then shift to a studio-based practice. Lee was instrumental in moving street art above the ground when he created the first handball court mural in 1978. He has had numerous solo shows and exhibited internationally, first at Galleria Medusa in Rome, Italy in 1979. In 1980, Lee had his first New York show at White Columns, ushering in an important era as spray paint made the transition from moving objects to stationary canvas works. His work was included in the critical “Times Square Show” (1980); “Graffiti Art Success for America at Fashion Moda” (1980); the “New York/New Wave” show (1981) at PS1; and in “Documenta #7” in Kassel, Germany (1983).
In the past decade, his drawings and paintings have been shown in “East Village USA” at the New Museum of Contemporary Art (2005), “The ‘S’ Files” at El Museo del Barrio (2010), and “Looking at Music 3.0” at the Museum of Modern Art (2011). He has had solo shows at MoMA PS1, Contemporary Art Center of Cincinnati, the Fun Gallery, Barbara Gladstone, Galerie Rudolf Zwirner, Lisson Gallery and Barbara Farber, among others. In 1983 he was featured in Charlie Ahearn’s influential film, “Wild Style,” which served as a blueprint for the emerging hip hop and street art movements. Lee also appears in Blondie’s “Rapture” video, and in “Downtown 81.” His work also appears in the Tony Silver and Henry Chalfant 1983 documentary film “Style Wars” and Manfred Kirchheimer’s “Stations of the Elevated.”
Quinones’ paintings are in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, the Groninger Museum (Groningen, Netherlands), and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam, Netherlands). Lee Quinones lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Here are two new podcasts with LEE you can now listen to for a bit more than 120 minutes. One hosted by the German graffiti podcast ILOVEGRAFFITI.DE talking about his Graffiti origins and the impact of his role in the movie WILD STYLE as well as the very first Graffiti art exhibition in Europe in 1979. In episode 74 of the Light Culture Podcast, Paper Magazine founder David Hershkovits talks with the artist about graffiti, success, and growing up in the Lower East Side.