Kenny Scharf


Spontaneity and fun are the heart of...

Kenny Scharf's wall for Wynwood. Like a giant graffiti tag or throw-up, the piece reflects the impulse and speed of the artist working in the street, and his popular cartoon-like characters are instantly recognizable. Kenny moved to New York City in the late 1970s, and his work embodies the spirit of that time, a Golden Age that continued through the early 1980s, in which Pop, New Wave, graffiti and the downtown art scene were colliding. It was during this explosive period that he first learned to use spray paint, and to master this newfound medium he remembers bombing the length of Manhattan between his studio in PS1 Queens and his home in the East Village, leaving the avenues covered with his characters.

Like his contemporaries Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kenny was inspired by graffiti's freedom and the direct connection street art gave him to people outside of the art world. "In the late 1970s it was a natural reaction for us to take it to the streets and the nightclubs and let loose and not take yourself too seriously because that is stifling!" Kenny's spirit and his belief that art should be appreciated for the experience rather than the price tag continue to inspire younger generations.

Kenny is also a master of customizing objects ranging from household appliances to Cadillac cars. So when Tony Goldman asked him to transform a vintage Airstream trailer for Wynwood, it was a natural extension of Kenny's work. Inside the trailer you are transported into a black-lit world, where ordinary objects—and even the possessions of the trailer's last inhabitant—are painted all around you in eye-popping Day-Glo colors. With the soundtrack playing, it's a time capsule from the artist's original Cosmic Cavern and the days of disco.