Dondi was born in 1961 on April 7 in Manhattan, New York. He was the youngest of five sons of Italian and African-American parents, and was raised in the mostly white East New York section of Brooklyn. Dondi’s parents were very religios and his Catholic school upbringing would later resurface in his artwork. Religious imagery and terms, such as “Anno Domini,” were prevalent in his work and his nickname as Dondi.
As a creative child, graffiti writer Dondi White came up in the 1970s, plastering his name and many nick names on many local subway trains. His work and personality stood out in the culture, as it was strong, bold, colourful and most importantly it was storytelling. As the Transit Authority eliminated graffiti writing from its trains, White became one of many graffitists who began to work aboveground. Graffiti-based art was at the heart of New York’s art scene in the 1980s and White began to put his work on canvas and exhibited it in art galleries.
Dondi died on October 2nd, 1998.
“I never had to compromise myself, It was always me, doing what was comfortable, and relaying the message that I didn’t have to be taught to be creative and do good things.”
Andrew Witten and Michael White, Dondi White Style Master General: The Life of Graffiti Artist Dondi White, Regan Books (2001)