COCO144 Roberto Gualtieri, b. 1956, New York City American (Puerto Rican / Italian) COCO 144 (Roberto Gualtieri) began to write his name on the streets of the Upper West Side Manhattan (Harlem and Washington Heights) in late 1969. While painting in the subway system, he introduced the use of a stencil, making him the first writer to innovate this technique of writing your name with rapidity on a wall or a train surface. As a result of this he was considered “all city” by the writing community from 1970-1972, a term that signified his name was everywhere.
COCO became one of the first renowned pioneers of the graffiti culture and movement. In 1973, Coco also transitioned writing and graffiti culture with his graffiti writing collective, UGA (United Graffiti Artists), bringing writing above ground from the trains into the gallery scene in downtown Manhattan. His work was featured at the Razor Gallery, a groundbreaking show that shifted the public’s perception of graffiti and ushered in a new era for an art form that what would soon become a global cultural phenomenon. In 1974, he exhibited at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago and in 1975 at Artists Space in New York City.
In 2008 and 2014 he was commissioned to paint murals of Sensory Exploration among other scientific research at Rockefeller University’s Neuroscience Laboratory. In 2009, COCO was featured in the Cartier Foundation’s Born in the Streets exhibit in Paris. In 2010, he created a 56 painting installation titled “Scientifically Correct” at Bard College’s Reem Kayden Gallery in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. In 2011, COCO was included in The Art in the Streets exhibit at the MOCA in Los Angeles and exhibited in The (S) Files Bienal in El Museo del Barrio. In 2013, he participated in Luciano Benneton’s "Imago Mundi” exhibition at the Querini Stampalia Foundation, Venice. He is currently living and working in New York City.