Artwork by Al Diaz
Al Diaz is best known for his collaboration with Jean Michel Basquiat on SAMO©, graffiti that appeared in lower Manhattan from 1977 to 1979. SAMO(c) initially known for its wit and sarcastic humor, became a globally recognized graffito after Basquiat’s rise to fame.
An influential, first generation NYC graffiti artist, who later became a text-oriented street artist, Al Diaz’s career spans five decades. He currently works with the WET PAINT & Service Change Alert signs used throughout the New York City subway system His visual style uses cut out individual letters from multiple signs to create clever, surreal and sometimes poignant anagrams. The reworked signage is then posted back onto subway walls. His WET PAINT work is featured in Nicholas Ganz’s book Street Messages and Yoav Litvin’s 2-Create. Al appears in numerous publications on 1970s and 80s New York graffiti culture. His most recent exhibitions include two solo shows, a two-man show with Carlos Pinto), seven group shows throughout the continental USA and a museum show in Caracas, Venezuela.
This past year (2017), Al was featured in Sara Driver’s film, BOOM FOR REAL, which explores Basquiat’s teenage years. Al was also part of a BBC documentary, RAGE TO RICHES, and the BOOM FOR REAL exhibition at London’s BARBICAN MUSEUM. Al is active as a featured speaker on a variety of panel discussions, including at The New School, The Museum of the City of New York, NOLA Arts Festival in New Orleans and The New York Public Library as part of a discussion panel on the Basquiat Notebooks.
Al resurrected the SAMO© graffiti in November of 2016 and has been actively creating new messages and quotes since then, leaving them in public places throughout the United States and the U.K. Al Diaz presently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.