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How Graffiti Left a Mark on the Art Scene

The first hip-hop tag came in the late 1960s, either in Philadelphia or New York City—there is some squabbling over this milestone—but New York is inarguably where the new art form would take flight in the 1970s, eventually propelling many of its young, upstart artists into the heady, gatekept world of high art. Most everyone today knows the name Jean-Michel Basquiat, but his neighbors and contemporaries, including the luminaries below, did just as much to establish the bright, bold energy that continues to distinguish hip-hop graffiti today.

Chris “Daze” Ellis

Ellis began tagging New York City subway cars in 1976 while still in high school and was one of the first artists to jump from street art to high art: By 1981, he was exhibiting at the Mudd Club with such rising luminaries as Keith Haring and Basquiat. Before long, his reputation went global. Ellis has held solo exhibitions in Austria, France, Italy, Singapore and beyond.