Born John Matos in 1961, CRASH was raised in the Bronx, New York. At the age of 13, he began following the older teens from his neighborhood to the train yards and began spray-painting full image art. Taking the name “CRASH” after he accidentally crashed the computer in his school, his name began appearing on trains circulating all throughout New York City. In 1980, he began transitioning from train yards to galleries, curating the ground-breaking show, “Graffiti Art Success for America” at Fashion MODA featuring the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, thus helping to create the graffiti art market that is still growing in strength. Regarded as a pioneer of the Graffiti art movement, Crash’s work is said to convey a ”visual link between street life and established society”.
In 1981, Crash, along with 10 other artists was chosen by The Public Art Fund to design animated imagery for The Spectacolor Billboard in Times Square. His first gallery show at the Sidney Janis Gallery in 1983 attracted Chase Manhattan, CITIBANK, and other major collectors. 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 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. 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) was auctioned for $321,100 (USD). Soon after, Fender Musical Instruments commissioned the creation of 50 such Crashocaster guitars from Crash.
In July 2006, two of Crash’s paintings were displayed in the Brooklyn Museum of Art and in 2010, Crash held a 30 year retrospective at Fairfield University’s Walsh Gallery. He has also shown at Art Basel, Miami Beach, FL, and is one of the NewYork artists featured at The Museum Of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.