In the scope of human history, graffiti is the only visual art form started by children to have become a globally entrenched medium. With forty years of history as an organized artistic lifestyle sport, graffiti has sprung from the neglected neighbourhoods of New York and Philadelphia to cover cities on every habitable continent. It was an amazing formula: fame for your name via effort and style. In the middle of the 1980s, there was a rush of media attention focused on the movement of graffiti, as a part of the hip-hop culture that included rapping, DJ’ing, and break-dancing. The movement immediately spread throughout the world and took immovable root across the United States. Yet despite the early rush and all of its success around the world, the written history of its expansion has remained scant, and to this day, the general public, even the educated general public, has only a faint sense of what graffiti is about, and one often clouded by misconceptions. "The History of American Graffiti" provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the roots of a subculture that, in the last twenty-five years, has managed to move mainstream without losing its edge. Authors Roger Gastman and Caleb Neelon have spent the better part of the last five years interviewing key figures in the graffiti world throughout American-from the bedrock cities of New York City, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles to the lesser-known, but equally important hotspots of Cleveland, Baltimore, and Phoenix. Approximately 90 percent of the art in this book has never been published, and was sourced directly from the artists who lived the scene, giving the book a raw street vibe as authentic as the history it documents.
About this book
Unprecedented in scope, The History of American Graffiti is the definitive story behind the most influential art form of the last one hundred years. Tracing the evolution of the medium from its early freight-train days to its big-city boom on the streets of New York City and Philadelphia, and to its modern-day influences, this volume is a compelling look at the key moments, places, and players in an art form distinctly American in flavour yet global in its reach.
Featuring behind-the-scenes stories and profiles gleaned from more than four years' worth of interviews with graffiti's most prominent names, as well as its lesser-known pioneers, authors Roger Gastman and Caleb Neelon provide an insider's perspective on the history of the medium. Not only do they reveal the most popular trends and styles that have dominated the scene for the last fifty years but they also provide a thorough examination of the regional differences among major American hubs – New York, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Chicago – and under-the-radar scenes in cities like Washington, D.C., Boston, and Miami. All told, more than twenty-five American cities are profiled, making this one of the most comprehensive volumes on the subject.
With more than one thousand photographs – The majority of which are seen here for the first time – from more than two hundred photographers, most of whom also created the artwork, The History of American Graffiti captures the look and feel of a genuine American art form with exceptional clarity and detail. An instant classic, this book is the ultimate resource to which aficionados of the art form will turn again and again, and which the uninitiated will regard as the definitive tutorial of all that is graffiti.
About the authors
Caleb Neelon has been writing about urban history and contemporary culture for more than fifteen years. He is the co-author of Street World and Graffiti Brasil, author of his artist monograph, Caleb Neelon's Book
of Awesome, and a contributor to dozens of other books and magazines. He has painted walls in more than two dozen countries and exhibited in galleries, museums, hospitals, and educational settings. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Roger Gastman started writing graffiti as a teenager in Bethesda, Maryland, and was able to parlay his love for it into a legitimate career. He founded and published two respected pop-culture magazines – While You Were Sleeping and Swindle (copublisher) - as well as more than a dozen highly sought-after art books. He is the founder and creative director of R. Rock Enterprises, a multiplatform media agency specializing in print, art, design, marketing, and brand development that has nurtured the careers of internationally recognized artists. Gastman has produced several independent documentary films and has held
speaking engagements at universities and museums across the country. He lives in Los Angeles, California, with his two yellow Labs, Nicky and Harley.
1st edition, 2010, hardback, 408pp, full colour throughout, fully illustrated, 22.5 x 24 cm