Late 1970s New York City was bankrupt and its streets dirty and dangerous. But the city had a wild, raw energy that made it the crucible for the birth of rap culture and graffiti. Graffiti writers worked in extremely tough conditions: uncollected garbage, darkness, cramped spaces, and the constant threat of police raids, assault by security staff and attacks by rival crews. It was not unlike practising performance art in a war zone. Yet during the fertile years of the late 1970s and 1980s they evolved their art from stylized signatures to full-blown Technicolor dreamscapes. Henry Chalfant created panoramic images of painted trains by photographing overlapping shots along the train’s length. It took time to earn the writers’ trust andrespect, but Chalfant became their revered confidant and with Tony Silver went on to produce the classic documentary film Style Wars (1983). Through a series of interviews conducted by Sacha Jenkins, we hear the voices of these characters of old New York. Quite a few of the original writers are no longer with us, but those who have survived have continued to push the envelope as artists and individuals in a new millennium.The stories they tell, included here alongside iconic, raw photographs of their work, will enthrall graffiti fans everywhere.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Henry Chalfant is an American photographer and videographer well known for his work on hip hop culture. He is the author of Spraycan Art, and his world-renowned documentation of the artists of the New York subway was memorialized in the most successful book on graffiti ever published, Subway Art, published by Thames & Hudson.
Sacha Jenkins is a former New York graffiti writer turned journalist whose books include the Piecebook series of graffiti drawings. He is the co-founder of the seminal hip-hop magazine ego trip, as well as co-author of the best-selling biography of Eminem, The Way I Am.
Published October 2014 by Thames & Hudson
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