Lady Pink: A Collector’s Guide
5 things you should know about Lady Pink, a pioneering woman of the graffiti movement who brought a female presence to the world of street art.
Lady Pink, the New York-based graffiti artist and muralist known as the “First Lady of Graffiti” notably challenged the male-dominated world of graffiti art by emerging as its first female figure, while helping elevate graffiti as a movement in the fine arts world.
Read on below to discover five things every art collector should know about Lady Pink.
- Lady Pink, or Sandra Fabara, was born in Ambato, Ecuador, and grew up in New York City. She currently resides in the countryside north of the city. Lady Pink attended the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan. From 1979 to 1985, she prolifically wrote graffiti on subway trains all over the city. Pink was still in high school when she began exhibiting her work in galleries. A few months after starting high school in 1980, prominent graffiti artist, CRASH, invited Lady Pink to be featured in the first graffiti exhibit at Fashion Moda. Reflecting on her participation in this exhibit, Lady Pink says “These guys [in the exhibition] were my heroes. I looked up to them like God I wish I could meet those guys. Then boom, I’m exhibiting with them”. At 21, she had her first solo show, Femmes-Fatales at the Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia, which followed her star role in the Wild Style motion picture, a groundbreaking film documenting hip hop and graffiti culture in the 1980s.
- Lady Pink spent years cultivating her signature style, while also fighting gender stereotypes at the same time. As she explains, “You have to fight tooth and nail, bitch and scream, be loud and be large to get respect”. Lady Pink’s start with graffiti and painting subway trains was an era that coincided with the burgeoning women’s movement and its more radicalized take on the female presence in society. Without fully realizing it at the time, Lady Pink became a strong ally to the movement, with its ideology translating into her work and practice while she proved women could have just as strong a presence in the world of street art as the men who often tried to force them out of it. She discusses how the second wave of feminism in the 1970s influenced her attitude and her work, explaining, “The more guys said ‘you can’t do that’, the more I had to prove them wrong. I had to hold it up for all my sisters who looked up to me to be brave and courageous and to prove that I could do what guys could do. We defend our artworks with our fists and our crazy courage.”
- The artist’s name was the product of her love of Victorian historical romances and desire to embrace the femininity associated with the color pink. At a time when female graffiti artists lacked a strong presence, Lady Pink put her feminism front and center both through her moniker and her work. Womanhood, although at first an obstacle to her entry and perceived legitimacy in the graffiti world, is a huge source of empowerment and strength in Lady Pink’s work. Being a strong female artist is not only reflected in her style and inspired by her upbringing, but it is also an integral part of who she is as an artist and a person. Lady Pink has discussed the hostility she experienced among her male counterparts but also the support that she says has accounted for the other half of her experience as a female graffiti artist. Despite stating that the sexism was worse 30-40 years ago, Lady Pink says that it is still an existing and observable challenge in the street art and graffiti culture of today, “there’s a ‘boys club,’ and they don’t want girls in it”.
- Once considered as objective vandalism or an illegitimate art form, Lady Pink helped street art and graffiti to become considered a respected and important force in the art world. Among the other graffiti artists of her time, Lady Pink remarks their undertaking in establishing a new perception of their practice and graffiti, “We had to set a precedent that we are artists of worth and of value, and we are not to be taken lightly”. Lady Pink’s efforts to promote the visibility and respectability of graffiti in the art world inherently created a dual narrative around the necessity and ability of women to participate in the art form, broadening the dialogue of female presence in the fine arts.
- As a leading participant in the rise of graffiti-based art, Lady Pink’s works have entered important art collections around the world, such as those of the Whitney Museum, the MET in New York City, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Groningen Museum of Holland. With over 40 years of work, she has established herself in the fine arts world for her graffiti, murals, and paintings that are highly prized by collectors. Lady Pink continues to mature as an artist, producing ambitious murals commissioned for businesses and creating new paintings that express her unique personal vision. Today, she runs a small mural company with her artist husband, Smith, creating massive works around New York City. Lady Pink shares her decades of experience throughout the world with the mural workshops she hosts for the youth and the lectures she gives to college students.
What’s on now at WCC:
West Chelsea Contemporary’s nearly 8,000 square-foot gallery offers the opportunity to highlight work on a monumental scale. From 16-foot originals by RETNA and Cey Adams to colossal sculptural work—including a larger than life mixed media shark and painted aluminum spaceman—the gallery is activated by art world giant’s not only in a metaphorical sense.
By contemplating ground-breaking movements from the past six decades, Icons & Vandals allows viewers to rediscover and redefine the art world’s most iconic and contentious house-hold names. These artists have left their mark on the development and progression of contemporary art by subverting the norms of their own time. Through this show it becomes clear that these two labels are not mutually exclusive but in fact ingrained in their interconnectedness.
Works from ICONS & VANDALS will be on display and for sale at West Chelsea Contemporary in beginning May 15.
Reach out today to inquire or acquire.