When photographers Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant first published their now widely recognized book Subway Art, New York City graffiti culture was only beginning to expand into the massive movement it eventually became by the 1980s. One of the first to document the graffiti movement at its peak, the book went on to sell more than half a million copies and will be available next month as a large-format edition.
“While many authority figures refer to graffiti as an entry-level crime, inevitably leading writers to engage in ever-increasing levels of serious illegal activity,” say Cooper and Chalfant, “our experience belies this bleak view. We have found that the skills, concentration, dedication, strive for excellence, and, indeed, work ethic acquired through an apprenticeship in the train yards have in most cases led to successful careers ranging from the fine arts to graphic clothing, cyber design to music, and yes even working for the MTA, military and police force.”
The photographed graffiti worked not only as a soundboard for the youth, but it also gave exposure to graffiti art, catapulting the genre into the media limelight and into the homes of international collectors.
The deluxe edition of Subway Art will include 70 additional photographs, an intro, and an afterward.