SAMO©…Not Dead by Al Diaz and Nic 707 • Original paint on plexiglass • 6.5 x 11 inches
Letter of Authenticity
Al Diaz aka Bomb 1’s career spans five decades. A prolific and influencial first generation NYC subway graffiti artist, who later became a text-orientated street artist. He co-founded the mythical art duo SAMO© with the iconic Jean-Michel Basquiat. The pair used the title, accompanied by short phrases, in turns poetic and sarcastic, spray painted on the streets of downtown Manhattan starting in 1977.
Art curator and critic Jeffrey Deitch called it “disjointed street poetry” and remembered that “back in the late seventies, you couldn’t go anywhere interesting in Lower Manhattan without noticing that someone named SAMO© had been there first.” One Basquiat biographer noted that "while some of the phrases might seem political, none of them were simple propaganda slogans. Some were outright surrealist or looked like fragments of poetry." Al recognized the original intelligence in their work: “The stuff you see on the subways now is inane. Scribbled. SAMO© was like a refresher course because there’s some kind of statement being made. It’s not just ego graffiti.” The project would cumulate in early 1980 with the final "SAMO© IS DEAD" tags being issued immediately before Basquiat shifted his focus towards canvases and gallery work, making it a pivotal point in the art world.
Nic 707 figures prominently in the history of the New York graffiti movement which began to flourish in the early 1970's. Born in Argentina as Fernando Pablo Miteff, he is the son of the famed Argentinian Heavyweight boxer, Pablo Alexis Miteff. Fernando was raised in The Bronx, where he became part of the City's radical and youth-driven urban art explosion. Inspired by the bold antics and ubiquitous works of artists like Phase 2 and Checker 170, he began as a “tagger” under the names of Stine 169 and Tuc 2. Fernando adopted Nic 707 in 1974 to experiment with combining the “Styles” of earlier artists he admired as well as his creating own unique styles. Nic 707’s work soon became a common site throughout New York’s IRT and IND subway lines.
Nic 707's enduring influence on the world of graffiti includes the mentoring of up and coming artists and noteworthy collaborations with many of the field's celebrated luminaries. Of particular note is the success of Nic 707's protege, Noc 167 (Melvin Samuels, Jr.), who is considered one of graffiti's legendary talents. Nic 707 also founded the renowned OTB (“Out to Bomb” or “Only the Best”) graffiti crew and was its first president. Today, OTB boasts an active membership of thousands of dedicated artists worldwide.
Hand Painted Plexiglass by Al Diaz and Nic 707