Chris “DAZE” Ellis is an American graffiti artist (and actor) known as one of the pioneers of the street-art movement. DAZE got his start writing graffiti on New York City subway cars in the mid-1970s, while he was a student at the High School of Art & Design. The artist once explained about his early years, “You’re painting and you hear these sounds — the compressors going on and off. A train would go by in the express lane and blow garbage around. You’re painting in this solitary environment and it felt real cinematic.”
In 1981, his work was featured in the Mudd Club group exhibition Beyond Words, alongside works from Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. The following year, he continued his transition from the streets to the gallery space with his first solo show at Fashion Moda, in the Bronx, NY. He has gone on to exhibit at venues such as the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York (1983), the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen (1984), and the Aldrich Museum in Ridgefield, CT (1995). Daze and his business partner and long time friend, John “Crash” Matos, served as the inspiration for the Netflix series “The Get Down” and served as graffiti consultants for the show.
Daze’s paintings have found themselves in many private collections including Eric Clapton, Natalie Imbruglia and Madonna. His work can also be found in the permanent collections of The Whitney Museum, NY, Museum of Modern Art, NY, The Museum of the City of New York, The Ludwig Museum, Aachen, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, and Addison Museum of American Art at the Phillips Academy, Andover.
Chris Daze Ellis continues to live and work in New York City.