JOHN (CRASH) MATOS
John (CRASH) Matos (b. John Matos, Bronx, New York, Oct. 11, 1961) is a graffiti artist. As early as age 13, CRASH was spray painting New York City trains with full image art — as opposed to simpler tagging soon transferred to silk screened canvas. He was first noticed through his murals on subway cars and dilapidated buildings, and is now regarded as a pioneer of the Graffiti art movement. His work is said to convey a “visual link between street life and established society.” In 1980, CRASH curated the now iconic exhibition:”Graffiti Art Success for America” at Fashion MODA, launching the graffiti movement that has remained very active through today. By the 1980s, CRASH had exhibits across the United States and abroad. Galerie Yaki Kornblit was the first instrumental gallery in Amsterdam that help launch his career in Europe. In 1981, the artist (along with 10 others) were chosen by The Public Art Fund to design animated imagery for The Spectacolor Billboard in Times Square. He was given his first gallery showing by Sidney Janis at the Sidney Janis Gallery in 1983. Chase Manhattan, N.A., as well as CITIBANK, N.A., and other collections came calling. In 1984, CRASH and Keith Haring painted mural installations for the 5/5 Figuration Libre France/USA at the Musee d’art Moderne de la Villa de Paris. In 1988, he sprayed Notes in the Wind measuring 178 x 178 centimetres to be exhibited and eventually owned by the Peter Stuyvesant Foundation in Zevenaar, Netherlands. In 1995, CRASH was commissioned by British American Tobacco to create a commission for Lucky Strike brand cigarette, joining fellow artist Keith Haring, to create a special work for this company and their collection.
In 1996, CRASH painted an Eric Clapton Signature Stratocaster and gave it to the artist as a gift. Clapton went on to use the specially designed guitar through his 2001 tour and later appeared with another. In total, CRASH has created 5 guitars for Clapton, though only three of them have made public appearances. One of Clapton’s “Crashocasters” (nicknamed by Eric’s former guitar tech, Lee Dickson) auctioned for $321,100 (USD) by the name of “Crash-3″ and was used extensively during the first Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2004. Soon thereafter, Fender Musical Instruments commissioned the creation of 50 such graffiti designed guitars from CRASH and named the line “Crashocasters.” The artist then went on to also design a line of custom painted telecasters with match Fender amps. Other artists such as John Mayer have used the custom painted Crashocaster guitars.
In July 2006, the pieces titled “Aeroplane 1″ (1983) and “A-U-T-O-matic”, (1985), along with other paintings from their permanent collection were displayed in the Brooklyn Museum of Art in a featured exhibit titled “Graffiti.” In 2009, CRASH held his first exhibition of painted guitars and guitar related artwork in NYC.
In 2010, CRASH held a 3- year retrospective at Fairfield University’s Walsh Gallery. He was asked by Sanrio to create a series of paintings to be shown at Art Basel, Miami Beach, FL, featuring Hello Kitty and other characters from Sanrio’s catalogue. Also, in 2010, CRASH was commissioned to create a special limited edition luggage for TUMI, Inc. A painting was created and used for the design, which was released world wide in 2011. Same day releases were coordinated in Tokyo, Hong Kong, New York, Germany, Paris and London. CRASH is one of the New York artist featured at MOCA, The David Geffen Building, Los Angeles’ “Art in the Streets”, April-August 2011.