Edited by Maxwell Wolf and Jeff Mao, Text by Jeffrey Deitch and Carmela Zagari
The late hip-hop pioneer, seminal graffiti writer, and iconoclast contemporary artist Rammellzee—a legend in his own time to his peers—was a profoundly transformative and influential figure across the art, graffiti, and music worlds.
Rammellzee was an enigmatic yet key figure in the nexus of creative forces that defined New York City’s heady downtown scene in the late 1970s and 1980s. In the first major monograph on the multi-hyphenate artist, his inspired vision and wildly diverse artistic output are considered in depth. The oversize volume presents a treasure trove of material, providing extraordinary insight into his creative genius: a comprehensive selection of artworks (his iconic resin frescoes, paintings, sculpture, and performance paraphernalia), never-before-seen documentation of his graffiti work and performances, archival material, and ephemera. Gathered here for the first time, these materials tell this complex artist’s origin story and details his artistic evolution, cementing Rammellzee’s place in the art historical canon.
Maxwell Wolf, lead curator of the much-lauded retrospective in 2018 on which this book is largely based, and co-editor Jeff Mao convene a historic gathering of the key actors of the time to tell Rammellzee’s extraordinary story in their own words in an extensive oral history. From graffiti writers, artists, musicians, and actors to filmmakers, photographers, gallerists, and family, those close to the late artist—including Toxic, Futura, Lee Quiñones, Charlie Ahearn, Jim Jarmusch, and Henry Chalfant—provide critical context about his life and work. This richly layered volume is a must-have for the legions of Rammellzee fans, as well as enthusiasts of contemporary underground art and culture, “old” New York, graffiti, and the history of hip-hop.
About The Author
Maxwell Wolf is a curator, art dealer, and author based in New York. Wolf founded New Canons in 2021, a nomadic curatorial office and art advisory. As the founder and chief curator of Red Bull Arts, an experimental arts space in New York City, he staged major exhibitions of artists such as Gretchen Bender, Mel Chin, Bjarne Melgaard, and Akeem Smith, among many others. Jeff Mao is an author, music journalist and historian, and curator. A longtime member of the creative collective ego trip, with which he has co-written two books, he worked extensively with Red Bull Music Academy as an interviewer and radio and film producer, and was an associate curator for Red Bull Arts’ 2018 exhibition Rammellzee: Racing for Thunder.Jeffrey Deitch is a gallerist and curator. Carmela Zagari was the artist’s wife and muse.