Alexander Lendrum

Editorial curator, born and raised in Hong Kong.

Martha Cooper’s Documentation of NYC’s Graffiti Culture in the ’70s is Back on Show

Anyone who’s familiar with street photography history will know the name Martha Cooper. The iconic photographer has captures the tropes and progressions of New York City’s street culture back in the ’70s, and from that, has provided us all with amazing documentation from music to art during the city’s golden age. If you happened to have seen Cheryl Dunn’s documentary film Everybody Street on NYC’s street photography that featured 13 of the scene’s best practitioners, you would have seen the respected work of Cooper. Much of what she’s captured includes NYC’s then burgeoning graffiti scene, and 40 years after her original chronicling of the movement (keep in mind, she’s still snapping!), her photographs are back and on show at the Steven Kasher Gallery.

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While shows like Netflix’s The Get Down does a good job at portraying the city’s storied hip hop history, Martha Cooper’s images reveal the same kind of fascinating development of the art form, from the comraderie between writers (who would share images of each other’s writing on the sides of trains), to developing signature tags, to kids hitting up street-side curbs with chalk, to the vibrant city’s urban “wallpapers” scattered throughout. Now thanks to Steven Kasher Gallery, a selection of 30 of her images–a mix of colored and B&W, as well as non-graffiti related images–are on display and will run through to June 3. Head here for more information, and check out a few examples throughout.

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Alexander Lendrum

Editorial curator, born and raised in Hong Kong.