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.