Kenny Scharf was born in Hollywood, California in 1958. He grew up in the "Valley" and attended UC Santa Barbara in 1978. It was there during an art history course that he learned about Andy Warhol, his art studio "the Factory," and the New York art scene. He was smitten and said to himself, "I'm gone..." and headed for the east coast in 1979. He enrolled in the School for Visual Arts in New York and it was there that he met Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Together, the three of them succeeded in changing the face of art in the early 1980s from an exclusive club for wealthy members of society to an inclusive arm of youth culture, street-style, and wanton creativity. They artistically flipped New York head over heels and even came under the wing of friend and mentor Andy Warhol.
Success came quickly for the trio and they enjoyed many accolades through the 80s. However, by 1990, Haring, Basquiat and Warhol had all died, leaving Scharf feeling unmoored and unhappy with New York, greed, and the art scene which had become more monster than friend.
Scharf retreated to Miami, Florida and Bahia, Brazil where he got married and eventually became a father to daughters Zena and Malia. He found creative refuge in the natural beauty of the jungles and oceanfront property he purchased in Brazil and continued to paint. In the mid-90s his family settled in Miami where he set up a formal studio and continued to sell his work although this was a very difficult time financially as he struggled to find an audience still receptive to his work.
A move to Los Angeles in 2000 allowed Scharf to return to his roots. There he established new connections and a new-found sense of creativity and energy. He partnered with Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York and Los Angeles based Honor Fraser Gallery in 2004 and together they have championed his work to new audiences.
In October 2017, Scharf purchased a new studio building in Inglewood, California, and his creative output is at full speed. Several new projects, collaborations and musem shows are in the works for the near future.