Sunday, 11 April 2010

Subway Art: 25th Anniversary Edition Book - Buy Here

There is no debating that the original printing of Subway Art , globalized the graffiti movement , giving our friends across the pond a detailed blueprint for letter forms, fresh from NYC's subway lines. In 2009 , there are a plethora of European spray paint companies catering to graffiti with an array of colors named after prominent artists in the culture. The period chronicled in this book (early 80's) is the most well-documented and some of the pieces are breath-takingly beautiful. The photography of Cooper, a pro and Chalfant , an amateur indistinguishable from a pro, show that two distinct styles can indeed co-exist with one another, despite Cap's words to the contrary. (Inside joke!)

The portraits of people are perhaps the strongest of the added material not included in the original version. Full page photos of Kase 2 with a menacing stare, a young Duster and Lizzie and a bat-wielding Dezzy Dez patrolling the 3 yard capture the era magnificently.  Several artists got added play in this new version of the old book and for the most it was the usual suspects (people who were down with Henry and Martha), giving a few of them a disproportionate amount of exposure versus their impact on this culture- a minor flaw, an oblivious public won't care about.

The book is physically huge and there are fold-outs of whole cars . Mitch 77 gets some long overdue love, as does one of the unsung heroes of the peace-loving , Central park bandshell- based version of RTW--RASTA.

Martha Cooper once ventured into the Esplanade Tunnel lay-up with Cap, Seen and myself to shoot action shots of a whole car in 1982. Damn! A quarter century went by fast.
She had huge stones to venture into the tunnel during that time period and although I don't endorse her Hip-Hop version of graff, I give her a lot of respect for that. Henry Chalfant has always been a class act and friend to the movement. If the old version of this book is considered "The Graff Bible", then this is definitely The New Testament.

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