Museum of the City of New York gives New York City graffiti high art treatment in a six-month exhibit

Once derided as a symbol of a city in decline 30 years ago, New York City graffiti will get the high-art treatment for the next six months through an exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York.

The exhibit, “City as Canvas,” opens Tuesday at the museum and features about 150 pieces from some of the most famous New York City aerosol artists of the 1970s and ’80s, including Tracy 168, Lady Pink, Daze and LEE.

“ ‘City as Canvas’ provides a window into the origins of the graffiti movement, which began as an illicit activity and evolved into an art form that spawned a worldwide phenomenon,” said Sean Corcoran, the collection’s curator.

The pieces on display through Aug. 24 are part of a collection of about 300 works purchased over the years by East Village artist Martin Wong, who promoted the once-taboo form of urban art. Wong, who died in 1999, donated his entire collection to the museum. He “had the foresight to scoop all this stuff up when no one else in New York was thinking about it seriously,” Sacha Jenkins, a writer and filmmaker who has written extensively on the graffiti movement, told The Associated Press.

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