Supreme Taps Iconic Lee Quinones Handball Wall Mural for Spring Collection
Skate brand Supreme teamed up with graffiti legend Lee Quinones to produce apparel based on one of his most iconic Lower East Side murals.
The artwork, dubbed “Lion’s Den,” dates back to 1980 at the Corlears Junior High School 56 on Madison Street. Quinones, who was a former student, had already painted one side of the slab with “Howard the Duck” two years earlier, and was reportedly invited back by the school principal due to the “positive outpouring of kudos in the community,” he later told the New York Times.
Now, that same handball court imagery is emblazoned on Supreme-branded denim “trucker” jacket and “painter” shorts. The products are part of the label’s spring/summer 2018 collection. They aren’t yet for sale, but someone is apparently selling a jacket on Ebay for almost $900.
Born in Puerto Rico and raised on the Lower East Side, Lee Quinones eventually rose to become one of the most influential and well-regarded players in the late-70s subway art movement. He is estimated to have sheathed roughly 125 cars, many of which were untouched by other writers.
In an interview with the Times‘ Cityroom blog in 2010, Quinones admitted displeasure with the erasure of the JHS murals. “I think that the handball wall murals in the schoolyard of Corlears Junior High School 56 on Madison Street should have also been preserved,” he told the publication. “Howard the Duck” (1978) and the “Lion’s Den” (1980) were entirely spray painted murals – essentially the first large standing pieces of street art, measuring 30 feet x 25 feet. “‘Howard the Duck’ was illegal, the first of its kind, and it also spearheaded my fine arts career above ground. Due to the positive outpouring of kudos in the community, the school principal gave me a handwritten permission slip to complete the second side of the handball wall in 1980 with the ‘Lion’s Den.'”
On the thirty-fifth anniversary of The Lion’s Den, a tribute was painted on the same handball wall by Sien, Tatu & Marthalicia Matarrita. Three years later, it still stands.