Featured artist series: John Crash Matos

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John Mayer playing his CrashocasterClapton & one of this crashocasters - 2 22 Nov 2001 Japan Yoshino

Crash (b. John Matos, Bronx, New York, Oct. 11, 1961) is a famous 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”. By the 1980s Matos had exhibits across the United States and abroad. He was given his first gallery showing by Sidney Janis at the Sidney Janis Gallery in 1983. In 1988 he sprayed Notes in the Wind measuring 178 × 178 centimetres to be exhibited in the Peter Stuyvesant Tobacco Factory in Zevenaar, Netherlands.

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.” 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) were displayed in the Brooklyn Museum of Art in a featured exhibit titled “Graffiti.”

from Wikipedia.com

Robert on John Crash Matos

“I met John Crash Matos, the world famous graffiti artist when I contacted him about the guitars he had painted especially for Eric Clapton. It was not easy to negotiate having a guitar made for my collection as he said Eric had to grant his permission. Once we were able to gain his approval, Crash made me the first of many amazing art guitars.”

Eric then sold one of his Crash guitars at his Christie’s Auction for The Crossroads Foundation in 2004 for $321,000.00! Since then Crash and I have become good friends and we have since collaborated together on a lot of guitar projects. Aside from the limited run of fifty “Crashocaster” guitars Crash had already done for Fender, together we have worked on many more interesting projects. Among those works was a guitar featuring Crash’s artwork tooled completely by hand in leather by Bill Silverman of El Dorado Guitar Accessories in Pasadena. Crash is currently working on a Flying V which has been ported to allow him to paint on both vertical and horizontal surfaces.”

“With this project, my love of fashion, art and guitars has truly come together in the making of these unique instruments.”

Robert Kantor, May 2010

Also check out:

Crashocasters website


John Crash Matos & the 50 Fender Custom Shop Stratocasters

Brooke Avenue by Crash

Crash on John Mayer’s Blog

Modern Guitars Magazine Column by CRASH (2009)

John Crash Matos on Facebook

John Crash Matos at the Thomas J. Walsh Gallery


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