logo

  • -image
  • -image
  • -image
  • -image

Henry Chalfant's Big Subway Archive

Henry Chalfant’s Big Graffiti Archive is a work of visual anthropology and one of the seminal documents of American popular culture in the late twentieth century.

click here to purchase on itunes

Starting out as a sculptor in New York in the 1970s, Chalfant turned to photography and film to do an in-depth study of hip-hop culture and graffiti art.  One of the foremost authorities on New York subway art,and other aspects of urban youth culture, his photographs record hundreds of ephemeral, original art works that have long since vanished. Exhibits of his photos include the O.K. Harris Gallery and the landmark ‘New York-New Wave’ show at P.S. l, and important galleries and museums in Europe. He has co-authored the definitive account of New York graffiti art, Subway Art (Holt Rinehart Winston, N.Y. 1984) and a sequel on the art form's world-wide diffusion, Spray Can Art (Thames and Hudson Inc. London, 1987).

Chalfant co-produced the PBS documentary, Style Wars, the definitive documentary about Graffiti and Hip Hop culture and directed Flyin' Cut Sleeves, a documentary on South Bronx gangs, in 1993. He produced and directed Visit Palestine: Ten Days on the West Bank in 2002. His film From Mambo to Hip Hop was featured in the Latino Public Broadcasting series, Voces in 2006-2007, and won an Alma Award for Best Documentary.

Chalfant is a resident of New York City with his wife Kathleen, an actress. They have two children, David, a musician and producer, and Andromache, a set designer. He continues to make documentary films about urban popular culture.

SCULPTURE - Solo exhibitions include: A-Dieci Gallery, Padua, Italy, 1970; 14 Sculptors Gallery, New York, 1973; 55 Mercer Gallery, New York, 1978. He was a founding member of 14 Sculptors Gallery.
Group exhibitions include: Sculptors Guild, Lever House, New York, annually, 1974-1983, Three Rivers Arts Festival, Pittsburgh, Pa. 1977; O.I.A. Battery Park, New York, 1977; Sculptors Guild, Bronx Botanical Gardens, New York, 1981; Elaine Benson Gallery, Bridgehampton, New York, 1981-1983;

PHOTO-DOCUMENTATION - Solo exhibitions include: "Graffiti in New York", OK Harris, New York, 1980; Canton art Institute, Canton, Ohio, 1981; Riverside Studios, London, 1985; Instituto de Cultura Norteamericana, Barcelona, 1985; Addison - Ripley Gallery, Washington, D.C. 1991. Ten Years: 1977-1987 The Prosper Gallery, New York, 2002; Maharishi, London, 2002; Prosper Tokyo, 2002; Galerie Speerstra, Paris, 2003; Iguapop , Barcelona, 2004; Montana Colors, Barcelona, 2006; Cox 18, Milano, 2006; Galerie Speerstra, Paris, 2006.
Group exhibitions include: New York/New Wave, P.S.1, New York, 1981; "The Comic Art Show", Whitney Downtown, New York, 1983; "Content, a Contemporary Focus 1974-1984", Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C. 1984; "Since the Harlem Renaissance, 50 Years of Afro-American Art", Bucknell University, 1985; Groningen Museum, Groningen, The Netherlands. 1993: "Urban Mythologies", The Bronx Museum, New York, 1999. "Art of the American Century Part ll", Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY 1999. "Hip Hop: A Cultural Expression", The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio; 1999; Hip Hop exhibit at the Experience Music Project, Seattle, WA, 2000; Helenbeck Gallery, “Whole in the Wall”, New York, 2009; Cartier Foundation, “Born in the Streets”, Paris, 2009. The Bronx Museum, New York, 2009.

BOOKS - Subway Art, Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant, Thames and Hudson, London, 1984, Henry Holt, New York, 1984; Spray Can Art, Henry Chalfant and James Prigoff, Thames and Hudson, London and New York, 1987. Subway Art 25th Anniversary Edition, Thames and Hudson, London and Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2009.

FILM AND VIDEO - Co-produced Style Wars, a PBS documentary film with Tony Silver, New York, 1984; produced with Rita Fecher and directed the documentary on South Bronx gangs, Flyin' Cut Sleeves, 1993. Produced and directed Visit Palestine: Ten Days on the West Bank. 2002 and directed From Mambo to Hip Hop, a documentary produced by City Lore Inc. 2006
Current project is a documentary film, working title, "Grand Tour", based on film footage his father shot in 1931 while on a trip around the world.

THE BIG SUBWAY ARCHIVE IS OUT

Henry Chalfant’s Big Graffiti Archive is a work of visual anthropology and one of the seminal documents of American popular culture in the late twentieth century. The original artworks depicted here, which have been the inspiration and guide for thousands of youthful artists around the world, were never able to endure for long before the city cleaned the cars, or the artists’ enemies crossed them out. Chalfant’s patience
capturing these masterpieces with his camera has left the world with a representative cross section of some of the best work by the most talented young artists who painted New York City’s subway cars in the seventies and eighties, the golden age ofwill be made available, released serially over the next year until all 800 trains have been published. The book is designed by Max Hergenrother and the video interviews with the artists of the era are produced by Carl Weston, of Videograf Productions.

 

View Comments (0)

Close Post

IN BEIRUT – DECEMBER 2010

My wife Kathy and I were invited to American University Beirut last week. Kathy did a theater workshop and I presented a slide show on New York graf, showed Style Wars and went around with a local film crew and a couple of street artists to look at some of the work being done in that town in Beirut, I went around with one of the members of the Ashekman crew, actually, another set of identical twin graffiti artists on the global scene, the first being Os Gemeos. The word Ashekman is a street slang word derived from the French word “echappement” which means “exhaust”, therefore it also means “pollution”. Ashekman have borrowed techniques from New York style and adapted both “bubble” letters and “wild style” to Arabic calligraphy with very good results. While in New York, graffiti was mostly aimed at theartists’ adolescent peers, in Beirut, artists, are using the idea of appropriating public space to express ideas which target the wider community. Ashekman say they love their city and their work communicates ideas that celebrate its historic vitality and resilience. I was pleased to see that artists in Beirut don’t hesitate to paint images that criticize and exhort the their fellow citizens to wake up! or to think twice before unleashing the wrecking ball that destroys the architectural heritage. There are some funny stenciled images and others that symbolize freedom, or that praise the Iraqui journalist who threw his shoe at George Bush, or that exhort us to practice safe sex…. and sometimes just expression, as the stencil artist who created faces to symbolize all our different moods. Omar said he would translate for the Arabic for me. Meanwhile I’ll put up a few flics. Omar, one of the twins of Ashekman

 

View Comments (0)

Close Post

AEROSOL ARABIC

I just spent a couple of days in Coventry and Birmingham with Mohammed Ali, Aerosol Arabic. Mohammed curated the Street Art exhibit at the Herbert Museum inCoventry. I joined him to talk about our work and the great possibilities that graffiti has opened up for people to express themselves. Mohammed Ali was inspired by Malcom X to use his skillsas an artist to make public murals to fight racism and oppression

 

View Comments (0)

Close Post

STREET TEXT, 516 ARTS, ALBUQUERQUE NEW MEXICO

The Street Text event at 516 ARTS in Albuquerque opened this weekend with a packed gallery, amazing artworks by Chip Thomas, Chris Stain, Shephard Fairey, Swoon, Jaque Fragua, Chaz Bojorquez and others..We showed Style Wars and Henry and Slip One did a Q&A. Chaz Bojorquez and Henry had a great public conversation about East Coast vs West Coast. We all learned a lot from each other. 516 ARTS had a bigger crowd that they’ve ever had for

 

View Comments (0)

Close Post

AMOS HENRY VELI

Once again there’s a Style Wars 2 rumor going around.

 

View Comments (2)

Close Post

THE ARCHIVES

Three decades after I took pictures of pieces on trains and ten years after I began the process of digitalizing the photos, for the first time I will be making all of my subway pictures available. While I’ve published many of my photos in magazines and exhibition catalogues, most of the Subway photos in my collection have never been published. At last the long awaited Big Graffiti Archive will be available in the form of a DVD set.

 

View Comments (0)

Close Post

Style Wars

Style Wars is the original Hip Hop documentary. Directed by Tony Silver and produced by Tony Silver and Henry Chalfant, it was awarded the Grand Prize for Documentaries at the 1984 Sundance Film Festival. Winning high praise from the local graffiti writing community for its authenticity, STYLE WARS is widely regarded as the indispensable document of New York Street culture of the early ’80s.

click here to purchase the film

Style Wars Revisit

This limited edition of the classic film Style Wars features 30 minutes of “never-before-released” outtakes, new interviews and “where are they now” footage. also featured in this edition are new commentary tracks, “Destroy all Lines” and the Aesop Rock music video “No Jumper Cables”.

click here to purchase the film

Flyin' Cut Sleeves

Completed in 1993 Flyin’ Cut Sleeves presents alternating portrayals, from the past and the present, of former street gang presidents in the Bronx: Benjy Melendez, The Ghetto Brothers, Ben Buxton, The Savage Nomads, Nelly “China” Velez, The Savage Nomad Girls, Felipe “Blackie” Mercado, The Savage Sculls, and Lorine Padilla, Blackie’s wife.

click here to purchase the film

FROM MAMBO TO HIP HOP

The film presents a panoramic view of the music that blossomed in the Latino community of the South Bronx from the late 1940’s, when Mambo burst onto the New York cultural scene, through the birth of Hip Hop in the 1970s.

click here to purchase the film