Subway Art: 25th Anniversary Edition by Martha Cooper + Henry Chalfant (May 2009)

During the 1970s and 80s, photographers Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant captured the environment and the imagination of a generation by documenting the burgeoning New York City graffiti movement. Now 25 years and more than a half a million copies later, their bestselling book Subway Art is available in a large-scale, deluxe format heightening the visual impact of their classic images.

With 70 additional photographs, and a fresh introduction and afterword, this collector’s edition illustrates the passion, creativity and resourcefulness of unlikely kids inventing an art form destined to spread worldwide and spawn the present-day street art movement.
Subway Art is the definitive book on graffiti from its inception as a “social plague” to its role as a sounding board for young urban voices and up-and-coming artists. This classic book tells the story of the rise of graffiti from the New York City streets to galleries worldwide–a must for anyone that appreciates urban life, spectacular photography, and 1980s cool.

“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 beak 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 generation of writers who appear in SUBWAY ART received an exposure that legitimized them and brought them to the attention of the world’s media and international art collectors. They have become incredibly famous, not only among the youth who emulate them, but also among luminaries of the art world.

Cooper and Chalfant’s groundbreaking book is poised to attract a new generation of graffiti enthusiasts.

About the Contributors

Martha Cooper is a Manhattan-based photojournalist, formerly on staff with the New York Post, where she began shooting images of street culture. Her images of graffiti and hip hop culture are world-renowned and widely published. Her photographs have appeared in National Geographic, Smithsonian and Natural History magazines as well as several dozen books and journals. She is the Director of Photography at City Lore, the New York Center for Urban Folk Culture. Cooper lives in Manhattan but is working on a photo project in Sowebo, a Southwest Baltimore neighborhood.

Henry Chalfant is a well known and highly regarded urban culture photographer and videographer most notable for his graffiti and breakdance photography and film. He is highly regarded for his wide knowledge in hip hop and the underground culture. His photos are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, among others. Chalfant co-produced and did the background research and photo-documentation for the film, Style Wars, first shown on PBS television in 1984.
Henry and Martha are considered two of the foremost authorities on New York subway art.

About Chronicle Books

One of the most admired and respected publishing companies in the United States, Chronicle Books was founded in 1967 and, over the years, has developed a reputation for award-winning, innovative books and quality merchandise. The company continues to challenge conventional publishing wisdom, setting trends in both subject matter and format, maintaining a list that includes titles in fine art, cookbooks, children’s books, music and popular culture. To visit Chronicle Books online, go to