Todd James (b. 1969, New York, New York, U.S.) began his art career in the New York City subway system, growing up in the Lower Manhattan of the early 1980s which was ground zero when graffiti art entered the galleries of SoHo. Below Canal Street, on the west side, Rammellzee’s first shows opened at Gallozzi-La Placa Gallery, directly across the street from James’ childhood home, and Henry Chalfant’s formative studio was also within walking distance. Through his adolescent graffiti work, James mastered the practical challenges of good design at an early age. Now an internationally acclaimed painter and graphic artist, he is also a co-creator of Street Market, a major work of the post-graffiti movement that was exhibited at Deitch Projects in New York from October 5 to December 2, 2000 and was subsequently selected for the 2001 Venice Biennale. In 2011, a recreation of this work was the central installation of the record-breaking Art in the Streets exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA).
James often channels politics and humor into his work and his paintings of war planes, tanks, and Somali pirates remain some of the most potent iconography of the past two decades. His recent work includes large-scale interiors of intensely personal spaces, deeply comforting lairs that offer retreat and protection to the viewer. James lives and works in New York City.
Todd James painting in the back of the Palladium, 1984. Courtesy of the artist.