Al Díaz and Jean-Michel Basquiat stoked public intrigue in 1978 as teenagers when they began tagging their SAMO©... writings throughout New York City.
The statements spoke to people, spoke about people, and sometimes spoke of nothing at all. What began as a cynical, yet clever joke among friends--eventually became a creative cornerstone for both artists--and a hallmark of NYC art historical accounts.
Everyone around town was asking,"Who is SAMO©?" Basquiat's path was well laid when the pair gave up their anonymity to the Village Voice in December 1978, in exchange for $100. The ball was rolling. Within two years Basquiat would be a famous painter, abruptly leaving behind Díaz and street writings for the blue chip gallery circuit. Díaz became a regular player in the NYC music scene. SAMO©... was dead. Ten years after that, Basquiat was also dead. But today, Albert Díaz is very much alive.
"Díaz is an utterly credible figure in the evolution of illicit public art, but we wouldn't be talking about him now if he weren't doing something that is still noteworthy."
- CARLO MCCORMICK, longtime art critic for Paper Magazine
"Al Díaz has been one of the most important and influential voices in graffiti and street art since the 70s. A poet, with sarcastic and sometimes brutally honest commentary on sociological issues as well as political issues, Al's words have inspired laughter, anger and deep contemplative thought about who we are and where we are going as a society. With each phrase, Al seems to be saying, "Think what you want, but this is how it is. Here is the truth, do with it what you will." Al has since gone on to creating his phrases using cut up letters from WET PAINT signs and subway materials to actually bring the street into the gallery or home while remaining true to his original vision and message. A true pioneer of the street and a living legend, Al is still cranking out work today while his commentary remains as timely and poignant as ever."
- DAVE NAVARRO, musician (Jane's Addiction) and art enthusiast
"(Al's) signature will be etched in history as one of the most handsome tags of all time."
- LEE QUIÑONES, visual artist, actor (Wild Style)
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