Rammelzee Gothic Future 50X75 1984
Rammelzee Gothic Future 50X75 1984

(American, 1960–2010) was a contemporary Graffiti artist, writer, hip-hop musician, performance artist, and art theorist known for his East Village “Wild Style” tag work. This style, created by a group of artists in the 1980s, was distinguished by its illegible writing derived from Gothic script, its dynamic look, and its vibrant colors. During his lifetime, he exhibited alongside artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat (American, 1960–1988), Futura 2000 (Lenny McGurr) (American, b.1955), Keith Haring (American, 1958–1990), and LA II (Angel Ortiz) (American, b.1967).   Rammellzee first became known in graffiti circles in the late 1970s for hitting the A train and other lines around Queens with his signature spiky lettering. He appeared in one of the most important graffiti and hip-hop films, Charlie Ahearn’s “Wild Style.” In 1983 his on-again-off-again friend, the painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, was involved in the production of “Beat Bop,” a 12-inch single by Rammellzee and K-Rob that became one of Rammellzee’s best-known performances and is widely considered a hip-hop touchstone; Basquiat also illustrated the record’s cover. The song plays over the closing credits in Henry Chalfant and Tony Silver’s graffiti documentary, “Style Wars.”   Rammellzee was an elusive, self-mythologizing figure who was rarely photographed without wearing one of his elaborate science-fiction-inspired masks and costumes, which he made along with the sculpture and paintings that became the mainstays of his career in later years.   He cast himself as an urban philosopher whose overarching theory, which he called Gothic Futurism, posited that graffiti writers were trying to liberate the mystical power of letters from the strictures of modern alphabetical standardization and that they had inherited this mission from medieval monks. (Some historians of early graffiti, like Hugo Martinez, contend that Rammellzee exaggerated his role in pursuing this mission and that he was little involved in subway or street painting.)Mr. Ahearn, who met him in the early 1980s, called Rammellzee “an extremely charming person and very lovable.”   “But he didn’t separate his fantastic work from his life,” Mr. Ahearn said. “So when he spoke to you, he often spoke in character, and that could sometimes be upsetting.”   He legally changed his name to Rammellzee — which he described as not a name but a mathematical equation — when he was younger, Mr. Ahearn said. As to the name he was born with, Mr. Ahearn said that he knew it but would keep it to himself, as his friend would have wanted. Ms. Zagari Rammellzee likewise declined to reveal it: “It is not to be told. That is forbidden.”

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Gothic-Future

Gothic Future