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Art class with Al Diaz

About the artist: Al Díaz’s career spans five decades. Born and raised Puerto Rican in New York City, by age 15 he was an influential first-generation subway graffiti artist known as “BOMB-ONE.” His friendship and artistic collaboration with high school schoolmate Jean-Michel Basquiat on SAMO© (a late 1970s avant-garde graffiti tag project) have been noted often in contemporary art history. Díaz later contributed percussion to numerous musical recordings and performances, including Basquiat’s historic 1983 record, “Beat Bop” (considered to be one of the earliest hip-hop albums). Díaz is sought-after as an expert in New York City counterculture art. He appears often in publications as a highlighted speaker for a variety of panel discussions at universities and museums (including the Brooklyn Museum, Smithsonian Institution, The New School, and Christie’s Education) and has been featured in several films, including Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat, BBC’s American Masters—Basquiat: Rage to Riches, and Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child. Díaz’ current creative practice in Brooklyn includes gathering the standard “WET PAINT” signage used throughout the NYC MTA and reconstructing it to create clever, poignant anagrams in various mixed media and public art formats. His work is shown and privately collected internationally. Dáz currently resides in Brooklyn. He has authored multiple books, including SAMO©…SINCE 1978 and CITY OF KINGS: A History of NYC Graffiti, chronicling the history of graffiti’s genesis in New York from its late 1960s origin to the present, as seen through the lens of writers who started the movement.

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