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Henry Chalfant's Graffiti Archives

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

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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. His archive of over 1,500 photographs is represented exclusively by Eric Firestone Gallery, New York and East Hampton. 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).

In 2016, his solo-exhibition at Eric Firestone Gallery “Henry Chalfant: 1980” was accompanied by a monumental catalog featuring 30 full-color plates of Chalfant's subway photographs, along with essays by cultural critic Carlo McCormick, hip hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy, famed graffiti writer and artist Lee Quinones, graffiti historian and former writer Jayson Edlin, and Henry Chalfant.

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; “Henry Chalfant”, Steven Kasher Gallery, New York, 2014. “Henry Chalfant: 1980”, Eric Firestone Gallery, New York, 2016; Speerstra Gallery, Paris, France, 2017; Paris Photo, Paris, France, 2017. 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. “Art in the Streets”, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2014. “The Bridges of Graffiti”, Venice Biennial, 2015. “Epoxy Exhibition: Toulouse Urban Culture Festival Rose Beton", Museé des Abattoirs, Toulouse, France, 2016. “Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect”, Bronx Museum of Arts, New York, 2017. “Hip-Hop, Un Age d’Or”, Museum of Contemporary Art, Marseille, France, 2017.

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. Training Days, Henry Chalfant and Sacha Jenkins, Thames and Hudson, London, 2015.

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 Chalfant's 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. Chalfant is executive producer on Queer City, released in 2015, a documentary on gay life in New York in the new millennium, and Some Girls, a documentary exploring issues of identity within the Bronx Latina-American community.

SELECT PUBLIC COLLECTIONS - Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, PA; Groninger Museum, Groningen, Netherlands; Bronx Museum, New York.

For sales inquires please contact Eric Firestone Gallery at efg@ericfirestonegallery.com

Henry Chalfant: 1980 Catalog now available

Eric Firestone Gallery is pleased to announce the release of Henry Chalfant: 1980. Chalfant’s iconic photographs of graffiti-covered subways helped launch New York City’s graffiti movement of the 1970s-80s into an international phenomenon. This book presents never-before published images and new essays from some of the most celebrated voices of the height of New York subway art. Focused on 1980, a notoriously dangerous time in the city of New York and an exceptional year for subway art, this catalogue features 30 full-color plates of Chalfant’s subway photographs and essays by cultural critic Carlo McCormick, hip hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy, famed graffiti writer and artist Lee Quiñones, graffiti historian and former writer Jayson Edlin, and Henry Chalfant.

Publisher: Eric Firestone Press
 Henry Chalfant: 1980
Contributors: Carlo McCormick, Fab Five Freddy, Jayson Edlin, Lee Quinones
Publication Date:  August 2017
Binding: Hardcover
Dimensions: 12 1/8  x 9 in
Pages: 82
Retail: $50

To view PDF online, click here


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Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect at The Bronx Museum

November 8, 2017 to April 8, 2018

Best known for his monumental cuts, holes, apertures, and excisions to the facades of derelict homes and historic buildings in New York, New Jersey, Chicago, and abroad, Gordon Matta-Clark’s work conveys a potent critique of architecture’s role vis-à-vis the capitalist system. Taking as a point of departure the pivotal series of “cuts” produced in the Bronx in the early 1970s that led to his further exploration of the city as a field of action, Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect will examine the artist’s pioneering social, relational, and activist approach. The exhibition highlights the political dialogue inherent in the artist’s artistic interventions—from his concern for the extreme plight of the homeless, his interest in direct community engagement, his belief that we should expand our lived experience of a city into its underground and other inaccessible spaces, and his commentary on development and socioeconomic stratification.

Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect will feature 8 of Henry Chalfant’s archival album pages featuring original hand cut c-prints of trains by artists including Blade, Dondi and Seen. This will be the first time these album pages have been exhibited at a museum. The exhibition includes over 100 artworks by Gordon Matta-Clark, rarely seen materials from his archive, and immersive film projections. On view beginning November 2017, Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect is organized by Antonio Sergio Bessa, Bronx Museum Director of Curatorial and Education Programs; and Jessamyn Fiore, independent curator and co-director of the Matta-Clark Estate. Following the Bronx Museum presentation, the exhibition will travel to the Jeu de Paume in Paris, France, the Kumu Art Museum in Tallinn, Estonia and the Rose Art Museum, in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect exhibition and catalogue are made possible by the Henry Luce Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Blue Rider Group at Morgan Stanley, David Zwirner, Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark, and Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund.


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Eric Firestone Gallery at Paris Photo: Henry Chalfant: 1980

Prismes P2
Grand Palais: 3 Avenue du General Eisenhower, 75008, Paris
November 9-12, 2017
Catalogue Signing with Henry Chalfant: Thursday, November 9, 2 – 5 pm.

Eric Firestone Gallery is pleased to announce its participation in the international photography fair Paris Photo with a solo installation “Henry Chalfant: 1980.” Henry Chalfant is known as the most significant documentarian of New York City subway art of the late 1970s and 1980s. His photographs, along with the 1983 film he co-pro- duced with Tony Silver, Style Wars, and the essential text Subway Art, a 1984 book co-authored with Martha Cooper, have immortalized this ephemeral art form and helped launch New York City’s graffiti movement into an international phenomenon. Eric Firestone Gallery (New York and East Hampton) represents the photography and archive of Henry Chalfant.

“Henry Chalfant: 1980” will include 18 monumental photographs documenting graffiti-covered subway cars – 96-inch digital prints on Kodak metallic paper. In addition, 8 of the original sheets of vintage hand-cut, collaged prints will be on view. (Another group of these sheets is currently on view at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, in the exhibition “Gordon Matta Clark: Anarchitect.”) The cut and collaged prints, on photo album sheets, allow the viewer entry into Chalfant’s process. The installation will be contextualized with a selection of black books (graf- fiti writers’ sketchbooks), and outlines (writers’ design drawings) from Chalfant’s personal archive. A short video about Chalfant, produced by Kodak in 1982, will also be screened. In the video, writers look through a Chalfant album containing hundreds of collaged images of cars, referring to it as the “Book of Knowledge.”

The photographs document work by the most prominent subway writers of New York City, including SKEME, BLADE, MAD PJ, SEEN, LEE, CRASH, DONDI, NOC, and ZEPHYR (and their crews, which include The Crazy Five, United Artists, The Death Squad, and The Rolling Thunders, among others).


The artist will be present for a book signing on Thursday November 9, 2-5 PM, celebrating the recent publication of Henry Chalfant: 1980. This hard-cover catalog features 30 full-color plates of Chalfant’s subway photographs, along with essays by cultural critic Carlo McCormick, hip hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy, famed graffiti writer and artist Lee Quinones, graffiti historian and former writer Jayson Edlin, and Henry Chalfant. The catalog will be available for purchase.

For more information email kate@ericfirestonegallery.com

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Speerstra Gallery Paris presents “1980” by Henry Chalfant

October 8- November 7, 2017
Speerstra Gallery – Paris – 24 rue Saint-Claude / 75003 / Paris.

Henry Chalfant is an American photographer and videographer. In the late 70’s, he discovered the premises of the New York hip-hop culture and soon became one of the privileged witnesses. He is the man who revealed New York graffiti to the rest of the world by accumulating a photographic archive. Fascinated by the colors graffiti gave to the city in full social and economic chaos, he intuitively posed his objective in front of the railway tracks and took pictures of painted trains. To succeed in the heat of capturing a train quickly at full speed, he develops a fast capture technique with his 35 mm camera. His approach intrigues some artists with whom he becomes friends. Henry brings them an unfailing support and an intellectual eye on an art that disturbs. It is necessary to realize that his clichés are historical today. The impressive extent of his iconography allowed him to publish books, make films but also to bring his testimony in the private and institutional collections. For his third exhibition at Speerstra Gallery Paris, Henry Chalfant presents the exhibition “1980”. The year 1980 marks the beginning of the golden age of graffiti on New York’s metro trains. Twenty photographs in a exceptional format of trains will be exhibited on the white walls of the gallery. Many are exhibited for the first time, and show us the early works by artists such as Dondi White, Crash, Daze, Seen, Blade …


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Hip Hop: A Golden Age 1970-1995 at Museum of Contemporary Art in Marseille, France

MAY 13, 2017 – JANUARY 14, 2018
69, avenue de Haifa
13008 Marseille

The Hip Hop culture opens the doors of the Museum of Contemporary Art to those in the United States, Europe and Marseille embody a global phenomenon. From the first blocks of the Bronx to the golden age of Marseille find the fever that has seized the world in three times and four movements: DJing, MCing, Graffiti & Bboying. The exhibition features a selection of Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper’s iconic photographs of the graffiti dominated New York City subway system in the 1980s.

The scenography of the exhibition favors crossings between all the disciplines that have been fertilized by this movement: music, dance, fashion, cinema, writing, graffiti, tag, photography.

For more information contact dgac-macpublics@marseille.fr.


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Henry Chalfant: 1980 at Eric Firestone Loft

Eric Firestone Loft | 4 Great Jones St. New York, NY #4

November 10 – January 21, 2017

Eric Firestone Loft is pleased to present Henry Chalfant: 1980, an exhibition that explores a cross-section of a momentous year in New York history through the lens of Henry Chalfant’s photography. This exhibition displays 150 of Chalfant’s photographs of graffiti-covered subway cars, many of which will be exhibited for the first time. This exhibition will also mark the exclusive representation of Henry Chalfant’s archive by Eric Firestone Gallery.

The exhibition will also feature 2 panel discussions moderated by cultural critic and curator Carlo McCormick. Panelists will include photographer Henry Chalfant, writer and TV personality Glenn O’Brien, film director Charlie Ahearn and graffiti writers Lee Quinones, CRASH, MARE, REVOLT, and SKEME.

A catalog accompanying the exhibition will feature 30 full-color plates of Chalfant’s subway photographs, along with essays by cultural critic Carlo McCormick, hip hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy, famed graffiti writer and artist Lee Quinones, graffiti historian and former writer Jayson Edlin, and Henry Chalfant.

For more information visit Eric Firestone Gallery.


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Epoxy Exhibition: Toulouse Urban Culture Festival Rose Beton

June 2nd – June 27th, 2016
Toulouse, France

For its second edition, the Rose Béton festival is the new event dedicated to urban practices and cultures in Toulouse.  This event offers places of expression to national and international artists, to allow the public to know the protean cultures that have imposed themselves on the streets of the Pink City for several years. Toulouse is now recognized as a laboratory in the field, especially for graffiti.

This year, Rose Béton will unveil the art of graffiti. The festival will explore the origins of New York, through the work of pioneers of the movement, and will expose contemporary urban artists globally recognized. The 2016 edition of Rose Béton is an international project that wants to dedicate the city of Toulouse as a real platform for urban artistic creation.”Rose Béton” settles in the Château d’Eau for a month and presents photographs of MARTHA COOPER and HENRY CHALFANT . Figures of urban art, their photographs document the emergence of the movement in the 80s in the United States.
In relation to this work are presented for the first time, the photographs of the young SYLVAIN LARGOT , who accompanies the new generations of underground urban exploration.

Henry Chalfant’s photographs and documentary films on young urban culture, make him a recognized specialist. His photographs of ephemeral paintings in the New Subway Yorkers have immortalized, frozen, moments and colors dedicated to disappear. He co-wrote with Martha Cooper the cult narrative of New York graffiti art “Subway Art”.


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Venice Biennial: The Bridges of Graffiti

May 9th – November 22nd, 2015

“The Bridges of Graffiti” project positions itself 30 years after “Arte di Frontiera. New York Graffiti”, the exhibition curated by Francesca Alinovi that in 1984 brought the New York graffiti writers artistic scene in Italy. Ten artists Eron, Futura, Doze Green, Todd James, Jayone, Mode2, SKKI ©, Teach, Boris Tellegen, Zero­T worked together for the very first time, bringing to life a single cohesive Hall of Fame piece within the Arterminal walls, together with some site specific works conceived especially for the exhibition. While the walls are home to the large collective fresco, a documentation of this multifaceted art form at its beginning is exhibited through the photographic images by Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper. The name Arterminal (Terminal of Art) has been specifically chosen to evoke the relevance of the harbor for the city of Venice, strengthening its international relevance and facilitating the exchange and the encounter between different cultures and different forms of art, as a result.

Curated by Fondazione de Mitri and Mode2,
with the consultancy of DeeMo, Luca Barcellona and Andrea Caputo.

Produced by Carlo Pagliani and Claudia Mahler
and Sartoria Comunicazione.

Organized by Associazione Inossidabile,
with the support of Autorità Portuale di Venezia.

Architectural Project Produced by
Venezia Terminal Passeggeri.

The Exhibition received the Patronage of UNESCO (Commissione Nazionale Italiana).


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Moving Murals: City Lore’s Grand Inaugural Exhibition

Henry Chalfant & Martha Cooper’s All City Graffiti Archive
March 20 – July 10, 2014

Photographed during the “Golden Age of Graffiti” in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, Chalfant and Cooper’s images of graffitied subway cars are among the major documents of American popular culture in the late twentieth century. Moving Murals presents the images in a wall to wall mosaic of over 850 muraled trains, creating an ultimate All City graffiti trainyard environment. Complimenting the murals: wallpapered photographs of the writers in their element. And for the first time, the exhibit provides an interactive audience experience through the addition of Chalfant’s recently published iBook viewed on a large screen, complete with the train image archive, artist interviews, and videos.

These classic train murals, which have been the inspiration and guide for thousands of youthful artists around the world, did not survive on the trains for long before the city cleaned the cars, or the artists’ rivals painted over them. Chalfant and Cooper’s patience and determination in hunting down and capturing these ephemeral masterpieces with their cameras 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 during the golden age. These images pay homage to the young artists from the City’s outer boroughs whose work—though often dismissed as vandalism—challenged contemporary fine arts standards, and became the visual component of the hip hop culture that was born on the streets of New York City.


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City as Canvas at Museum of the City of New York


The first time exhibition of works from the expansive street art collection of Martin Wong. Martin Wong, an East Village artist and collector of graffiti art, amassed a treasure trove of hundreds of works on paper and canvas—in aerosol, ink, and other mediums. The artists, including Keith Haring, Lee Quiñones, LADY PINK, and FUTURA 2000, were seminal figures in an artistic movement that spawned a worldwide phenomenon, altering music, fashion, and popular visual culture. The exhibition City as Canvas: Graffiti Art from the Martin Wong Collection includes over 150 works on canvas and other media, along with photographs of graffiti writing long erased from subways and buildings. Wong, who died of AIDS in 1999, donated his collection to the City Museum in 1994.



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Style Wars Blu-Ray

Featuring a brand new HD transfer from the original 16mm print. Over 70 minutes of never before seen extras including: The Outtakes and The B-Boy Showcase, made from unreleased footage, remastered with the help of donations from Kickstarter, also in HD. Style Wars: In The Cutting Room, a behind the scene look at the the editing process.

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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”.

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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 NYC Street culture of the early ’80s.

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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.

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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.

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Vol. 1 - CYA & TVS


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