Artist of the day 2/20/12: Graffiti 1 : Kenny Scharf


Kenny Scharf

Scharf was born in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California in 1958. He is an American painter and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. He received his B.F.A in 1980 at the School of Visual Arts located in New York City.

Scharf’s works consist of popular culture based shows with made up science-related backgrounds. He came to prominence in the 80’s interdisciplinary art scene making sparkly, pop-ed and monstrous paintings and installations. He uses images from the animated cartoons popular during his childhood, like The Flintstones and The Jetsons. In 2002 he released a cartoon of his own, “The Groovenians” of which there was only one episode.
Scharf was a key figure in the East Village art scene of the 1980s, with shows at Fun gallery (1981) and Tony Shafrazi (1984), before seeing his work embraced by museums, such as the Whitney, which selected him for the 1985 Whitney Biennial. He did the album covers of The B-52’s in the mid-80s. In 1995, Scharf designed a room at the Tunnel nightclub in New York. Scharf was friends with the graffiti artist Keith Haring and appears in the documentary “The Universe of Keith Haring“. In 2004, he appeared in The Nomi Song, a documentary about his friend, opera singer and new wave star Klaus Nomi.

With Keith Haring he created the first of his blacklight disco installations, called “cosmic closet” in the closet of their Times Square apartment. That project has grown and morphed into its most recent incarnation, “Cosmic Cavern” with Scott Ewalt in Kenny’s Brooklyn building’s basement where he held amazing parties in 2009 & 2010. Kenny and Dearraindrop spotted each other across a crowded Deitch Art Parade in 2005 and have been collaborating through the mail ever since. They share a love of cartoons, thrift stores and street junk, underground comics and graffiti, customized clothing, technical painting, collaging and hot glue gunning.

In 2010 Kenny Scharf collaborated with Joe Grillo and Laura Grant of Dearraindrop an artist collective from Virginia Beach for a show at The Hole NYC curated by Kathy Grayson. Scharf has had featured exhibits at the Monterrey Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami Center for the Fine Arts, and The Queens Museum of Art. Scharf is represented by New York City’s Paul Kasmin Gallery which also shows Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, David Hockney, Morris Louis, Al Held, and others.

View his web page at


Kenny Scharf’s work


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