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American, born 1955

Futura (American, born 1955), Bradford Reds, 2023, at 712 Elmwood, Buffalo, New York 14222. Spray paint and acrylic paint. Photo: Brenda Bieger, Buffalo AKG Art Museum

Bradford Reds,

Public Artwork Details

Currently on View


Commissioned by the Buffalo AKG Art Museum Public Art Initiative, 2023

Location: 712 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, New York 14222 (Get Directions)

A man in a black beanie and black jumpsuit with the words FuturaLaboratories on the back holds spray paint can in his right hand up to a bright blue wall
The work begins. Photo: Amanda Smith


Leonard Hilton McGurr is better known as Futura2000, a moniker he adopted as an influential part of the early New York City graffiti scene in the 1970s. He gained recognition through his unique combination of abstraction, pop culture references, and more traditional graffiti elements, culminating in his infamous 1980 work Break Train, in which he covered a full subway car. He participated in groundbreaking exhibitions alongside prominent figures such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, and in notable tours with The Clash and the 1982 New York City Rap Tour. Futura’s practice embodies the duality practiced by many contemporary artists, both continuing his painting career while collaborating with brands and developing product lines. Beyond his namesake company Futura Laboratories, he has worked with a wide range of companies, including streetwear brand Supreme, A Bathing Ape, and Mo’ Wax records and luxury labels such as BMW, Louis Vuitton, and Virgil Abloh’s Off-White. Over the course of five decades, Futura has continued to be an innovator. He has not only influenced subsequent generations of tastemakers across many disciplines but continues to actively participate in the forefront of cultural development.  


How to Paint a Mural Like a Graffiti Legend

Tools of the trade. Photo: Jeff Mace, Buffalo AKG Art Museum

Using the extend paint roller, Futura can get the almost perfect arc of a circle. Photo: Jeff Mace

Spraying against a sheet of cardboard yields straight lines. Photo: Jeff Mace

One of Futura's signatures is this painterly line, achieved with spray paint and decades of attunement to different ways that paint can come out of the can depending on how one holds it and primes the flow. Photo: Brenda Bieger 

Take a step back to plan the approach. Photo: Jeff Mace

Another recurring element in Futura's work is the atom. Photo: Brenda Bieger

Here, the atom is made using a stencil; elsewhere Futura freehands the concentric interlocking circles. Photo: Jeff Mace

Before you are a graffiti artist, you're a graffiti writer, and the first thing one learns to write is one's signature. Photo: Jeff Mace

Photo: Jeff Mace

Project Sponsors

This mural was completed in conjunction with Futura 2000: Breaking Out (September 23, 2023–February 11, 2024) an exhibition at the UB Art Galleries.

Initiative Sponsors

The Public Art Initiative is supported by the County of Erie and the City of Buffalo.