Kenny Scharf entered the downtown art scene after graduating from the School of Visual Arts in 1980. The artist’s signature lava lamp-like characters developed during these years remain present in his gallery and street work today.
The 1980s marked a period of creative cross-pollination — the East Village provided an artistic community where art, music, fashion and partying coexisted. As the graffiti movement emerged in NYC during the 1970s and 1980s, artists were inspired by this alternative, DIY energy — exploring ways to bypass gallery limitations and directly engaging with the public. Shaped by the spirit of this period, Sharf states that it is has been a guiding principle in his work to reach beyond the ‘elitist boundaries’ of the fine art world, using public art to bridge his creative process with everyday life.