Dondi White (American, born April 7, 1961–died October 2, 1998) was a Graffiti artist best known for his dynamic lettering and stick figures. Born in New York, he began his career in the early 1970s, as part of the group of Graffiti artists known as The Odd Partners, who worked primarily on the M, J, and LL subway lines during the 1970s. In 1977, White formed his own group, known as CIA, and established his reputation as one of the most stylistically innovative and influential Graffiti artists of his generation. The photographer Martha Cooper (American, b.1943) documented how White painted a subway car in her series Children of the Grace (1979), which also appeared in the book Subway Art, published in 1984. In 1980, White took part in the Esses Studio project, which was funded by the art patron Sam Esses, and sought to preserve subway art that was being systematically removed by the MTA. At this time, White began to work on canvas, and became associated with a group of artists working in the East Village, including Futura 2000 (Lenny McGurr) (American, b.1955), Keith Haring (American, 1958–1990), and Jean-Michel Basquiat (American, 1960–1988). White’s work on canvas reiterates the lettering, symbolic icons, and stick figures that were his signature marks on the streets. His later work in the 1990s included colleges that juxtaposed his pencil drawings with blueprints of the subway system. His work has been exhibited at the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands, the Fun Gallery in New York, and the Musée des Monuments Français in Paris.

Timeline

1961
Born: Donald J. White in Brooklyn, New York, NY
1970
Began scribbling on streetlights near his house
1976
Tagged using “NACO” and “DONDI"
1977
Became a member of TOP crew (The Odd Partners)
1978
Formed his own crew, named CIA (Crazy Inside Artists), which included other prominent artists such as CRASH, DOC, and RASTA
1980–1981
Worked at Esses Studio, began making large-scale canvasses
1981
Became associated with the Soul Artists
1982
Toured Europe with the New York City Rap Tour
1995
Was part of the "Fifteen Years Aboveground" print portfolio and exhibit organized by CRASH
1998
Died: New York, NY

Exhibitions

2007
"Le Graffiti Historique", Musée Paul Valéry, Sète, France
2006
"No Sleep ‘til Brooklyn: A powerHouse Hip Hop Retrospective", The powerHouse Arena, Brookly, NY
1999
"The Dondi White Memorial Exhibitio", Exhibit 1A Gallery, New York, NY
1992
"Coming from the Subway - New York Graffiti Art", Groninger Museum, Groningen, The Netherlands
1991
"Graffiti Art", Musée des Monuments Français, Paris, France
1988
"Real Paint", Procter Art Center, New York, NY
1987
"Remembrances", Sfax Gallery, New York, NY
"Matter of Facts", 56 Bleecker Gallery, New York, NY
1986
"Graffiti", Leopold-Hoesch Museum, Germany
1985
"Graffiti", Gemeentemuseum Helmond, The Netherlands
1984
Galerie Yaki Kornblit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (solo)
"Artists from NY", Gallery Willem Speerstra, Monaco
"Artist Space - New York Graffiti", Groninger Museum, Groningue, The Netherlands
"Classical American Graffiti Writers and HighGraffiti Artists", Galerie Thomas, Munich, Germany
1983
"New York Graffiti ", Museum Boymans-von Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Galerie Yaki Kornblit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (solo)
Fun Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Gallery Art in Progress, Düsseldorf, Germany (solo)
5Ix Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Gallery 121, Antwerp, Belgium
Gallery Piranese, Zurich, Switzerland
"Intoxication", Monique Knowlton Gallery, New York, NY
Seibu Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
1982
Fun Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
University of California, Santa Cruz, CA
"The Ugly Man", Six Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
"Burners", Mary Porter Sesnon Gallery, Santa Cruz, CA
5Ix Gallery, New York, NY
Nature Morte Gallery, New York, NY
1981
"New York/New Wave", PS 1, Queens, NY
"Beyond Words", Mudd Club, New York, NY
The Kitchen, New York, NY
1981
Club 57, New York, NY

Literature

2002
Sanchez, Brenna. Dondi White: Contemporary Black Biography Vol. 34, Gale Group, 2002
2001
Witten, Andrew “Zephyr” and Michael White. Dondi White, Style Master General: The Life of Graffiti Artist Dondi White. New York: Harper Collings Publishers Inc., 2001