Artist of the moment….Street Artist Martin Wong

Martin Wong was one of the first prominent American street artists that developed an international reputation for his style of street art which often included hands that were performing sign language.

Martin Wong was born Portland, Oregon in the year 1946. The artist grew up in the Chinatown area of San Francisco, California.

Price range info: Works range from $20,000 to $150,000. Wong is among the hottest artists on the market right now with new auction records being set routinely. Wong worked in oils, acrylics, and ceramics.

In this clip we catch up with our artistic amigo James Kalm as he views an exhibit featuring the artist:

Wong attended Humboldt State University in California. As a student he loved working with ceramics. During his time in San Francisco he also gained employment as a theater and set designer for local groups.

In 1978 the artist moved back east to New York city settling down in Manhattan.

The artist was a central figure in the grafitti movement that included artists from the streets getting into galleries and becoming commercially successful. Other artists who were also making the transition to gallery representation include Crash, Basquiat, and Keith Haring.

One work by Martin Wong was called Traffic Signs for the Hearing Impaired. He used his signature style of using the hand and fingers to spell out words. In this example the words spelled out “one way”, “stop”, and “school for the deaf.” The artwork was made in the manner of a regular street sign even using the same color schemes.

If you are ever in New York you can see the signs at the Lexington School for the Deaf in Queens, the New York School for the Deaf in Manhattan, and St. Joseph’s School for the Deaf in the Bronx.

Martin Wong passed away in 1999 from A.I.D.S. related illnesses. Wong was 53 years of age.

Wong was an avid collector of street art and after he passed away gifted much of his collection to the city of New York.

Martin Wong is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of Art both located in New York City.

What a great style Wong created. Hands are one of the most difficult things for an artist to depict, Wong was a master at working with hands.


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