skip to main content
Subway Art
NY, Owl/Holt Rinehart Winston, (1984). One of the first books on graffiti, one of the four pillars of the hip hop movement -- graffiti, rap, breakdancing/breaking, and deejaying or turntabling. 1984 was a breakthrough year in publications on these subjects, and this is the earliest book by a major trade publisher to focus on graffiti art, primarily but not exclusively on subway cars. The two photographers who made this book pursued their subjects for years, taking hundreds of photos, sometimes of artworks that were erased by the Transit Authority before they ever left a trainyard. The two had distinct styles, one a photo-journalistic style, the other a more artistic, composition-oriented style. They also introduced many of the "writers" in their book, some of whom have come to be seen as major artists of their time, and founders of hip hop culture: one of them, Futura 2000 in his early years and now just Futura, recently sued The North Face clothing company for stealing his tag for the logo of their line of clothing called FutureLight. Futura became known as one of the "Subway School" of artists, along with Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and Kenny Scharf. Cooper was a documentary photographer focusing on graffiti and breakdancing from the late 1970s and early 1980s; she did the photography for dance critic Sally Banes' landmark article on breaking in 1981, published on the cover of the Village Voice; and she has said "as far as I know my photos are the earliest documentation of b-boying" [i.e., break boying, hip hop artists]. Chalfant likewise spent years tracking down graffiti artists and photographing their works, even developing a four-image sequence that could get an entire subway car, and its art, into a single frame. An early book on a culture-changing art movement. Small owner inscription first page, otherwise fine in wrappers and uncommon thus. [#034788] $575

All books are first printings of first editions or first American editions unless otherwise noted.