BLADE, born in the Bronx as Steven Ogburn, began painting graffiti in 1972. He was known for his whole-cars and has painted more than 5,000 trains in his career. His “Mainstreams” painting was done in spray paint and marker on canvas in 1990 as a response to other artists moving away from traditional graffiti lettering. The man who earned his title as “the King of Graffiti” exhibited his first works on canvas in a European art show in 1981 and was featured on the cover of the Sotheby’s catalog in 2005 — the first living artist to do so since Andy Warhol. BLADE’s work often transfers graffiti’s charismatic characters and overlapping 3D letters to canvas and remains recognizable for its ’70s-era color palette and abstract imagery.
BEYOND THE STREETS New York, 2019. Photo by Martha Cooper.