Let Us Spray: Up Close and Personal with New York’s Early Graffiti Writers

A new exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York showcases works by Martin Wong and his street-artist friends Keith Haring, Lady Pink, Lee Quiñones, Dondi, and many more


Lady Pink’s 1982 painting Manic Depression depicts the New York street artist—then just a lanky teen—vulnerably slumped on the floor of a jail cell, which she shares with two prostitutes. The walls of the cell are scrawled with notes and graffiti tags, the largest of which reads, “Lady Pink.” The work isn’t as self-assured or psychedelic as Lady Pink’s later canvases, which often feature ghoulish creatures navigating trippy, urban wonderlands, but artist and collector Martin Wong knew he had to have it. Why? Because it is the first painting the artist created using a brush, rather than an aerosol can.

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