Graffiti Pioneer CASE2’s Only Known Canvas Work Heads to Auction

By Sameer Rao May 02, 2018

Jeffrey Brown, best known by pseudonyms CASE2 and KASE2, left his spraypainted impression all over New York City subway cars and buildings throughout the ’70s and ’80s—a time when graffiti took its first steps out of the South Bronx and into the mainstream art world. One lucky art collector will get a piece of this history tonight (May 2), when CASE2’s only documented work on canvas heads to auction.

Julien’s Auctions, an art auction house in Beverly Hills, announced in a press release that this untitled work will go up for sale in an auction dedicated to celebrated street artists. In addition to this painting, attendees have a chance to bid on pieces by auction record-breaker Jean-Michel Basquiat, Banksy and RETNA

The Source noted that CASE2 overcame the loss of his arm in a subway accident to paint over 100 pieces on subway cars throughout New York City. As a member of The Fantastic Partners, a Bronx-based tagging crew, CASE2 helped elevate graffiti into pop culture. Hyperallergic reported that he created the "computer rock" style, in which artists break letters of the alphabet into boxes and scramble them.

CASE2 gave himself the honorific nickname "King of Style" during an appearance in "Style Wars," one of the first documentaries to showcase hip hop culture and constituent art forms like graffiti and breakdancing to the broader public. CASE2 died from lung cancer complications in 2011.

Julien’s Auctions property specialist Mitchell Kaba said in a video statement that was emailed to Colorlines that CASE2 created the canvas as a gift to his attorneys, who successfully argued for the dismissal of drug charges against him in the 1990s. A public relations representative for the auction house confirmed via email that it acquired the piece directly from one of those attorneys.

“CASE2’s innovative artistry and style changed the way we view graffiti art and its possibilities, and his influence on the popularity of today’s street art and hip hop culture is undeniable," Julien’s Auctions CEO Darren Julien said in a press release.

Check out a full image of the artwork up for auction: