Crash (b. John Matos, Bronx, New York, October 11, 1961) is a graffiti artist. As early as 13, John Matos was spray painting New York City trains, the full image art as opposed to simpler tagging soon transferred to silk screened canvas. He was first noticed through his murals on subway cars and dilapidated buildings, he is now regarded as a pioneer of the Graffiti art movement.His work is said to convey a "visual link between street life and established society".
In 1980, Crash curated the now iconic exhibition:"Graffiti Art Success for America" at Fashion MODA, launching the graffiti movement that has remained very active through today. By the 1980s Matos had exhibits across the United States and abroad. Galerie Yaki Kornblit was the first instrumental gallery in Amsterdam that help launch his career in Europe. In 1981 Crash, along with 10 other artists were chosen by The Public Art Fund to design animated imagery for The Spectacolor Billboard in Times Square. He was given his first gallery showing by Sidney Janis at the Sidney Janis Gallery in 1983. Chase Manhattan, N.A., as well as CITIBANK, N.A., and other collections came calling. In 1984, Crash along with Keith Haring painted mural installations for the 5/5 Figuration Libre France/USA at the Musee d'art Moderne de la Villa de Paris. In 1988 he sprayed Notes in the Wind measuring 178 x 178 centimetres to be exhibited and eventually to be owned by the Peter Stuyvesant Foundation in Zevenaar, Netherlands. In 1995, Crash was commissioned by British American Tobacco to create a commission for Lucky Strike brand cigarette, joining fellow artist Keith Haring, to create a special work for this company and their collection.
In 1996, Crash painted an Eric Clapton Signature Stratocaster and gave it to the artist as a gift. Clapton went on to use the specially designed guitar through his 2001 tour and later appeared with another. In total Crash has created 5 guitars for Clapton, though only three of them have made public appearances. One of Clapton's "Crashocasters" (nicknamed by Eric's former guitar tech, Lee Dickson) auctioned for $321,100 (USD) by the name of "Crash-3" and was used extensively during the first Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2004. Soon after Fender Musical Instruments commissioned the creation of 50 such graffiti designed guitars from Crash and named the line "Crashocasters." Crash went on to also design a line of custom painted Telecasters with matching Fender amps. Other artists such as John Mayer have used the custom painted Crashocaster guitars.
In July 2006, the pieces titled "Aeroplane 1" (1983) and "A-U-T-O-matic",(1985), along with other paintings from their permanent collection were displayed in the Brooklyn Museum of Art in a featured exhibit titled "Graffiti." In 2009, Crash held his first exhibition of painted guitars and guitar related artwork in NYC.
In 2010, Crash held a 30-year retrospective at Fairfield University's Walsh Gallery. Crash was asked by Sanrio to create a series of paintings to be shown at Art Basel, Miami Beach, FL, featuring Hello Kitty and other characters from Sanrio's catalogue.
Also, in 2010, Crash was commissioned to create a special limited edition luggage for TUMI, Inc. A painting was created and used for the design, which was released worldwide in 2011. Same day releases were coordinated in Tokyo, Hong Kong, New York, Germany, Paris and London. Crash is one of the New York artist featured at MOCA, The David Geffen Building, Los Angeles' "Art in the Streets", April–August 2011. In 2011, Crash held his first print survey exhibition in Southport, Ct., at Southport Galleries. In 2012, Crash was asked to participate in painting on Paris' Le M.U.R.
In 2013, Crash had the privilege to create a large scale mural at the Houston Street wall, SOHO, NYC for Goldman Properties.
In 2014, Crash was asked to create a series of murals for The Little Italy Street Art ( L.I.S.A. ) Project as well for T.A.G. Project, The Bronx, NY. He was also asked to participate on painting at The Bushwick Collective, Brooklyn, NY. Crash also created a line of shoe wear for ASH Footwear. In 2014, Crash along with partner Robert Kantor, opened WALLWORKSNY, in the South Bronx, to showcase both young, emerging local artists as well as established artist both local and international.
In 2015 Crash continued his long standing association with the TATSCRU by painting a series of murals, as well with The L.I.S.A. Project. Also in 2015, he was commissioned to participate and install a mural in Coney Island for Coney Art Walls in cooperation with Thor Equities and Jeffrey Deitch, Brooklyn, NY. He created a site specific mural at Villa Tamaris, La Seyne sur Mer, France, as wall as a retrospective exhibition of his work, spanning 30 years. The end of 2015 found Crash creating his last installation for the year at Wynwood Walls, Wynwood, Miami for Goldman Properties.
In 2016, Crash was commissioned to create a 200-foot mural at the new wing of The Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, Canada, as well accepting a mural commission at Sun Life Stadium, Miami, FL, as well new installations for The L.I.S.A. Project and a new mural for Coney Art Walls in cooperation with Thor Equities and Jeffrey Deitch, Brooklyn, NY.