About the Artist: Dondi was an American graffiti artist best known for his dynamic lettering and stick figures. His work, whether painted on canvas or on walls, is characterized by a dynamic energy and explosive use of color. Born Donald Joseph White on April 7, 1961 in New York, NY, he began his career in the early 1970s as part of the group of graffiti artists known as The Odd Partners, who worked primarily on the M, J, and L subway lines during the 1970s. In 1977, Dondi formed his own group, known as CIA, and established his reputation as one of the most stylistically innovative and influential graffiti artists of his generation. The photographer Martha Cooper documented how Dondi painted a subway car in her series Children of the Grace (1979), which also appeared in the book Subway Art, published in 1984. In 1980, Dondi took part in the Esses Studio project, which was funded by the art patron Sam Esses, and sought to preserve subway art that was being systematically removed by the MTA. At this time, Dondi began to work on canvas, and became associated with a group of legendary artists working in the East Village, including Futura, Keith Haring, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. His canvas works reiterated the lettering, symbolic icons, and stick figures that were his signature marks on the streets, while his later work from the 1990s included collages that juxtaposed pencil drawings with blueprints of the subway system—which had previously served as his canvas. Sadly, the artist’s career was cut short, and Dondi died on October 2, 1998 from AIDS at the age of 37. His work has been exhibited at the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands, the Fun Gallery in New York, and the Musée des Monuments Français in Paris, among others.
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