Street Art Book Review

Martha Cooper and Roger Gastman Release “Spray Nation”: “Subway Art” on Steroids

Martha Cooper and Roger Gastman Release “Spray Nation”: “Subway Art” on Steroids

Subway Art on Steroids: Spray Nation Sorts Through Mountains of Kodachromes

Spray Nation by Martha Cooper and Roger Gastman, with a foreword by Roger Gastman and essays by Steven P. Harrington, Miss Rosen, Jayson Edlin, and Brian Wallis.

Page after page of golden NYC hits from the Martha Cooper archive; this new hardcover tome expands the galaxy for fans and academics of that amber-soaked period when it seemed like New York was leading a Spray Nation of graffiti for cities across the country. Known for her ability to capture graffiti writers’ work in its original urban context, Ms. Cooper once again proves that her reputation as the documentarian of an underground/overground aesthetics scene is no joke.

With an academics’ respect for the work, the practice, and the practitioners, Cooper recorded volumes of images methodically for history – and your appreciation. With the vibrant and sometimes vicious city framing their pieces, an uncounted legion of aerosol-wielding street players raced city-wide at top speed, ducking cops and cavorting with a confident abandon in the rusted and screeching steel cityscape. By capturing these scenes without unnecessary editorializing, Cooper gives you access to the organically chaotic graffiti subculture on the move at that moment – directly through her unflinching eyes.

Martha Cooper: Spray Nation. Signed Limited Edition Box Set. Published by Beyond The Streets/Roger Gastman

Culled from thousands of her Kodachrome slides from the early 1980s, the celebrated photographer and ethnologist worked with American graffiti historian Roger Gastman over many months during the initial Covid period to select this rich collection of images of tags, walls, and pieces. Each turn of the page more profoundly deepens your understanding of the graffiti-writing culture Cooper captured with Henry Chalfant in their book Subway Art nearly forty years ago. That clarion call to a worldwide audience took years to reverberate and shake culture everywhere. With time that book became the standard root documentation for what many see as the largest global democratic people’s art movement in history.

A smartly laid-out and thick volume (as well as its “Outtakes” collection), the high-quality printing and spare design hew to the photographer’s reliably straightforward approach, preferring to let the photos tell the story. From this perspective, Spray Nation is likewise a sleeper; We’ll probably only wholly appreciate its pivotal value and cultural importance with time.

Martha Cooper: Spray Nation. Signed Limited Edition Box Set. Published by Beyond The Streets/Roger Gastman
Martha Cooper: Spray Nation. Signed Limited Edition Box Set. Published by Beyond The Streets/Roger Gastman
Martha Cooper: Spray Nation. Signed Limited Edition Box Set. Published by Beyond The Streets/Roger Gastman
Martha Cooper: Spray Nation. Signed Limited Edition Box Set. Published by Beyond The Streets/Roger Gastman
Martha Cooper: Spray Nation. Signed Limited Edition Box Set. Published by Beyond The Streets/Roger Gastman
Martha Cooper: Spray Nation. Signed Limited Edition Box Set. Published by Beyond The Streets/Roger Gastman
Martha Cooper: Spray Nation. Signed Limited Edition Box Set. Published by Beyond The Streets/Roger Gastman
Martha Cooper: Spray Nation. Signed Limited Edition Box Set. Published by Beyond The Streets/Roger Gastman
Martha Cooper: Spray Nation. Signed Limited Edition Box Set. Published by Beyond The Streets/Roger Gastman
Martha Cooper: Spray Nation. Signed Limited Edition Box Set. Published by Beyond The Streets/Roger Gastman
Martha Cooper: Spray Nation. Signed Limited Edition Box Set. Published by Beyond The Streets/Roger Gastman
Martha Cooper: Spray Nation. Signed Limited Edition Box Set. Published by Beyond The Streets/Roger Gastman
Martha Cooper: Spray Nation. Signed Limited Edition Box Set. Published by Beyond The Streets/Roger Gastman
Martha Cooper: Spray Nation. Signed Limited Edition Box Set. Published by Beyond The Streets/Roger Gastman

Martha Cooper: Spray Nation. Signed Limited Edtion Box Set is published by Beyond The Streets. With a foreword by Roger Gastman and essays by Steven P. Harrington, Miss Rosen, Jayson Edlin, and Brian Wallis. Click HERE to purchase the book.

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Kurt Boone Shares the Jersey City Mural Festival in Print

Kurt Boone Shares the Jersey City Mural Festival in Print

Almost a year ago, the Jersey City Mural Festival 2021 was launched. We covered it extensively for you here, here, here, and here on BSA.

Poet, urban author, photographer, and longtime NYC messenger Kurt Boone was there too, camera in hand and ready to record the action of the artists getting up on walls and meeting the public. Kurt throws himself into the scene and knows how to navigate while people are enjoying the atmosphere of creativity all around. With his knowledge of the street capturing graffiti, urban cycling, street photography, skateboarding, and busking, you know that his shots are on point.

Instead of uploading everything to a social media platform, Boone asked his friend Anthony Firetto to help lay out his photos to create a book. This is a genuine work of the heart – a self-published hefty book that captures a moment in time, the various players and styles, and a flashpoint in the development of Jersey City as it continues to change.

Congrats to Mr. Boone for putting this together and thanks to him for sharing it with us and BSA readers. See more about Kurt Boone and his impressive work HERE.

Jersey City Mural Festival. Photography by Kurt Boone. © Copyright Kurt Boone

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Robbie Conal: Politics & Blasphemy, Streetwise Caricatures for 3+ Decades

Robbie Conal: Politics & Blasphemy, Streetwise Caricatures for 3+ Decades

The political caricature is a treasured form of public discourse that still holds as much power as it did when we relied on the printing press. Able to express sentiment and opinion without uttering a syllable, the artist can sway the direction of conversation with skill, insight, and humor. Artist Robbie Conal has built a career from visually roasting the most sebaceous of our various leaders in the last few decades, often bringing his posters to the street and installing them in advertisers’ wildposting manner.

With the briefest of texts, slogans, or twisted nicknames, he reveals the underbelly as a face, dropping expectations into the sewer. If it were as simple as a political party, one might try to dismiss his work as only partisan. But Conal’s work functions more as an ex-ray, and frequently the resulting scan finds cancer.

In this newer book by author G. James Daichendt, EdD, who has written previously about Kenny Scharf and Shepard Fairey and in The Urban Canvas: Street Art Around the World (Weldon Owen, 2017), Conal is thoroughly recorded, examined, and explained. A street artist, among many other things, Daichendt calls Conal an “LA fixture and someone who is universally respected for the passion and vitality that he has brought to his work as an artist and teacher for several decades.”

Chapters of Conal’s interests and opinions are thoughtfully compiled and laid out, the artist seemingly never out of a fresh supply of political figures to skewer. As an object lesson, his practice is what draws him near and dear to the part of the street art community who uses the streets to communicate, advocate, and rebuke the hypocrisies in culture and politics


“I vividly remember the first time I saw Robbie Conal’s art because it felt like the exact thing I was meant to see but didn’t realize it until I experienced it,” says Shepard Fairey in his foreword. In his description, one can see that this artist has influenced Fairey, among others, but particularly.

“From that moment of discovering Robbie’s work forward, I had a clearer vision of what art could be… A poster on a corner utility box caught my eye … it was an image of Ronald Reagan on a bright yellow background with bold type that said CONTRA above and DICTION below. Then, a block later, I spotted another one. Now I was on the lookout, and the Contra-Diction posters seemed to be on every corner,” Fairey says. “This Contra-Diction poster spoke to me as a communiqué from a truthful voice of the people.”

High praise indeed.

ROBBIE CONAL / STREETWISE. 35 YEARS OF POLITICALLY CHARGED GUERRILLA ART. By G. James Daichendt. With a foreword by Shepard Fairey. Published by Schiffer Publishing LTD. Atglen, PA

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Fabio Petani Presents  “Spagyria Urbana”

Fabio Petani Presents “Spagyria Urbana”

The human-built city has at times been called a jungle, but the concrete and steel environment flatters itself if it really thinks so. The intelligence and beauty present in the natural plant world far outstrips our modern cityscape, centuries after its origination. At least a few artists have been bringing it back to us in murals over the last few years, introducing a calm, lyrical serenity that dives way beneath the conscious, touching our roots.

The young Italian painter Fabio Petani has been reintroducing a natural agenda to cities across Europe for less than a decade – in a way that only a scientist, botanist, and naturalist with a design sensibility could. What is genuinely original is his subtle re-interpretation of the formal conventions of botany, introducing them to a modern urban audience without lecturing – and rising far beyond purely decorative presentations.

In the first hardcover-bound collection of works called Spagyria Urbana, the Dinerolo-born, Turin-trained Fabio Petani impresses with scale, scope, and sensitivity. More impressive possibly is the ease with which he can command his scientific interests and his ability to infuse his works with warmth, into rather artisanal renderings of art.

The book gives sweeping vistas of his large-scale works as well as many small and personal details about his development as an artist and the tight brotherhood of Italian street artists who invited them into their fold, first as an assistant, later as a peer. With outstanding scholarship and imaginary descriptive phrasing, lead essayist Alessandra Loalè brings the artist and the work into context, instilling a greater appreciation in the reader.

The duality of Petani’s combined and complementary styles is captured eloquently and instructively as analogous to the natural forces of life. “The abstract stroke of his first artworks gives way to a further realistic approach in the creation of the compositional layout, which results in a progressively more articulate combination of simple graphic elements,” she writes “a  symbol of a logical conscience which brings order to the whole structure – and botanical subjects.”

“The latter is represented in more recent pieces in two guises: a pictorial reinterpretation, defined by brush strokes and specks of color, and a more realistic graphic approach, which hints towards the typical etchings featured in botanical illustrations, enriched by the meticulous descriptions of thoroughly researched details that are proper to each species.”

In an age of awakening to our true impact on the natural world, it is perhaps more surprising that many 20 and 30-something urban artists are not drawing our attention to its power, intelligence, and inherent beauty. Petani brings the urban passersby straight to the source unflinchingly and with all the respect Mother Nature deserves.

Fabio Petani “Spagyria Urbana”. Torino, Italy. 2021. Texts by Alessandra Loale. Layout by Livio Ninni with translation by Mauro Italiano.

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“Born In The Bronx” Expanded: Joe Conzo’s Intuitive Eye on Early Hip Hop

“Born In The Bronx” Expanded: Joe Conzo’s Intuitive Eye on Early Hip Hop

Born in the Bronx: A Visual Record of the Early Days of Hip Hop

Yes, Yes, Y’all, it’s been a decade since this volume, “Born in the Bronx,” was released. The images here by photographer Joe Conzo seem even more deeply soaked in the amber light of early Hip Hop culture from the late 1970s and early 80s, now taking on a deepened sense of the historical.

As the city and the original players of this story have evolved through the decades that followed the nascent Hip Hop era, it’s clearer than ever that this was nothing less than a full-force eruption, a revelation that cracked and shook and rocket-fueled an entire culture. Thanks to Conzo it was captured and preserved, not likely to be repeated.

The book is masterfully edited by Johan Kugelberg, the true visionary of this project, who established and has overseen the growth of a collection of memorabilia and history for the Hip Hop History Archive at Cornell University – which now boasts a quarter million items. A modestly thick hardcover, it’s rich in its choices. Posters, handbills, album covers, original lyrics by performers, stunning portraits backstage, on stage, on the mike, and on the street; this is a world you can immerse yourself into quickly and without pretension.

Born in the Bronx is full of gems, insider observations, interviews, and personal hand-drawn artworks. One critical cornerstone is a timeline from Jeff Chang that begins in 1963 as the boastful but failed Urban Planner Robert Moses constructed the Cross Bronx Expressway – painfully destroying and displacing people and families, severing culturally significant, vibrant areas of the borough and producing a dangerous malaise.

An ensuing blight only fueled the “white flight” from the city, leaving a growing number of dispossessed black and brown neighborhoods that suffered for decades afterward.  His timeline ends in 1986 with Run DMC going platinum and a drug war ramping up to see a booming prison population. With these events as bookends, you know the music, art, dance, fashion, and performance culture that grew out of the Boogie Down was going to be commanding and resilient.

Afrika Baambatta recounts a foreword to Miss Rosen, LL Kool J does a brief “kick-off,” the Cold Crush Brothers hit the stage, and the packed crowd is enthralled. To get the full story about how to document the scene, check out Joe Conzo’s account told to Miss Rosen – the story of a shy chubby boy – the son and grandson of community activists who became his high school’s resident photographer and who parlayed subsequent connections into an exploration of music, performance, and the burgeoning Hip Hop scene at the moment it was happening.

For a richly rendered graffiti context, there is a fully realized recounting of the people and the scenes that informed it in an essay by Carlos MARE 139 Rodriguez called “What You Write?” With it, you get a true sense of a an exciting merging of music, aesthetics, society, street, creativity, and community.

The book closes with a very personal but pertinent poem, it’s short verses ducking and spinning and swaggering with pride at what the Bronx gave birth to; a global culture that continues to resonate worldwide and rock the bells.

“No ends could be made
For the price we would pay
Economically strapped
No time for a nap

‘Cause this is about to go down

The boogie down was burning
And my people yearning
Just to get a piece of the pie
My mind’s eye

Was as big as the sky”

~Luis Cendeno AKA DJ Disco Wiz, from “The Land Before the Rhyme”

BORN IN THE BRONX: A Visual Record of the Early Days of Hip Hop. Expanded edition published in 2020 by 1xRUN with support from ROCK THE BELLS & BEYOND THE STREETS. Detroit, MI. 2020.

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“Unsmashed” A Street Art Sticker “Field Guide”

“Unsmashed” A Street Art Sticker “Field Guide”

The street sticker, be it ever so humble and diminutive, is profligate and sometimes even inspiring. An amalgamated scene that is anonymous, yet curiously stuck together, the organizers and sponsors of so-called sticker jams have been overwhelmed in recent years by thousands of participants.

Hand-made one-offs to slick mass-produced and custom die-cut by the hundred, these adhesive back expressions of personal branding may depict characters, slogans, witticisms, or satirical skewing of pop culture memes. Collectively these are the DNA of a global game played out in the street and in public spaces, a silent dialogue that yells quite loudly.

Artist and organizer IWILLNOT has compiled, organized, archived, and preserved this collection as a ‘field guide,’ he says, and another artist named Cheer Up has laid out page after page. It is a global cross-sample from 60 countries and a thousand artists – a treasure trove of the witty, insightful, snotty, and sometimes antisocial street bards of the moment, seizing their moment to speak and mark territory.

UNSMASHED: A Street Art Sticker Field Guide. Compiled by IWILLNOT, Designed by Cheer Up. A Collection of 1,229 full color sticker designs by 1,000 artists from more than 60 countries. Published by IWLLNOT and Cheer Up. December 2020.


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Street Art Today 2 by Bjorn Van Poucke : An Update on 50 “Most Relevant” Artists

Street Art Today 2 by Bjorn Van Poucke : An Update on 50 “Most Relevant” Artists

A worthy companion to the original tome, Bjørn Van Poucke and Lanoo publishers extend the hitlist of favored muralists that he & Elise Luong began in Street art/ Today 1 – and the collection is updated perhaps with the perceived cultural capital many of these artists have garnered since then.

Replete with full-color plates from the artists’ own collections and garnished with brief overviews of their histories, creative background, and philosophies, the well-designed and modern layout functions as an introduction for those unfamiliar with the wide variety of artworks that are currently spread across city walls as large scale opus artworks in public space. As organizer and curator of The Crystal Ship mural festival in Oostende, Belgium, Mr. Van Poucke has had his pick of the litter and has showcased them during the late twenty-teens.  

“It feels like the peak of street art’s identity crises is finally behind us, and we’re witnessing the re-birth of a new, reinvented scene,” says writer Sasha Bogojev in his introduction, and who could disagree. This has always been true of the organic form of subversive street art. Published on the eve of Covid-19, surely we know that everything has changed again, and the scene is reinventing itself once more – perhaps closer to its roots this time.

With some interviews with artists and insights from selected cultural observers, the artists work is collected into groupings that help organize stylistic themes including Abstract, Figurative, Realism, and Urban Interventionism, Part 2 will make a quick study for collectors and fans alike.

Street Art Today 2: The 50 most influential street artists working today. By Bjorn Van Poucke. Published by Lannoo publishers, Belgium.

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Leon Keer: “Break Glass In Case Of Lost Childhood”

Leon Keer: “Break Glass In Case Of Lost Childhood”

One of the challenges in creating a book about anamorphic art is presenting images that tell the viewer that they are being tricked by perspective yet hold onto the magic that this unique art conjures in people who walk by it on the street.

Leon Keer. “Break Glass In Case Of Lost Childhood”. Published by Lannoo Publishers, Belgium, 2020

In a way, that brass skeleton key that allows entry into another world is precisely what Dutch pop-surrealist artist Leon Keer has been seeking for decades to evoke in viewers’ heads and hearts. Some would argue he is preeminently such; certainly, he is the wizard whose work on walls and streets has triggered memories for thousands of children and ex-children of the fantastic worlds they have visited.

“You develop your senses all your life. Through what you experience, you involve affinities and aversions,” he says in his first comprehensive bound collection of gorgeous plates entitled In Case of Lost Childhood Break Glass. “Your memories shape the way you look at the world. When it comes to reflecting my thoughts, my memories are key. I needed to feel some kind of affection or remorse towards the object or situation I want to paint.”

Leon Keer. “Break Glass In Case Of Lost Childhood”. Published by Lannoo Publishers, Belgium, 2020

Looking through the various venues he creates with and within, you can find an imagination that fully entreats you to join in the fun. Whether they are street paintings. floor paintings, anamorphic rooms for you to pose in, experiments in augmented reality brought alive on your phone, enormous land art paintings, or oddly shaped painted canvasses, Keer is not keeping the fun to himself. You are the welcomed and necessary ingredient that will supremely complete the scene.

Los Angeles art dealer Andrew Hosner writes an introduction to the book, representing Keer to collectors and curating his work commercially. He is felicitously taken by the artist’s ability to conjure a familiar yet unusual world, describing the mind-melt that occurs during a typical Leon Keer encounter. “Bending your perspective, and opening your mind along the way, has never been more rewarding.”

Leon Keer. “Break Glass In Case Of Lost Childhood”. Published by Lannoo Publishers, Belgium, 2020

As you turn the pages, you wonder what some of the stories behind the pieces are, and he’ll often give you a clear description of what was going through his mind when he created it or what the particular significance is to him. You may also marvel at his dedication to preserving that precious world that each of us once lived in. Ingenious, witty, technically precise, Keer is a responsive and trustworthy guide.

Leon Keer. “Break Glass In Case Of Lost Childhood”. Published by Lannoo Publishers, Belgium, 2020

“Every day I try to be a child, but when I look in the mirror I am reminded that time is marching on,” he writes. “Gray hairs in my beard and a receding hairline make me realize that my childhood years are far behind. Yet my curiosity is never burned so bright.”

Leon Keer. “Break Glass In Case Of Lost Childhood”. Published by Lannoo Publishers, Belgium, 2020
Leon Keer. “Break Glass In Case Of Lost Childhood”. Published by Lannoo Publishers, Belgium, 2020
Leon Keer. “Break Glass In Case Of Lost Childhood”. Published by Lannoo Publishers, Belgium, 2020
Leon Keer. “Break Glass In Case Of Lost Childhood”. Published by Lannoo Publishers, Belgium, 2020
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BSA HOT LIST: Books For Your Gift Giving 2020

BSA HOT LIST: Books For Your Gift Giving 2020

It’s that time of the year again! BSA has been publishing our “Hot Lists” and best-of collections for more than 10 years every December.

In this year that has been so heavy and difficult for many of the BSA family we thought it would be inappropriate to do things the way we always do, out of respect for this moment. The one list that we feel good about this year of course is our shortlist of some of our favorite books from 2020 that you may enjoy as well – just in case you would like to give them as gifts to family, friends, or even to yourself.


From BSA:

Crossroads, the new monograph from Alice Pasquini is full of the young daring and confident girls and women whom have been traveling with her since she began painting walls around the world two decades ago.

Rendered in aqua and goldenrod and midnight, withstanding winds and rains, these figures are willing to be there as a testament to the daily walk through your life. A survey and diary of her works and experiences, her style is more human than international in its everyday appeal, advocacy gently advanced through the depiction of intimate personal dynamics and internal reflection.

Perhaps this quality alludes to the invitation of interaction, the ease of integration with the public space in a way that the cultural norms of her Italian roots influenced her.

“In Rome, where I grew up, everything is urban art. Any little fountain or corner was made by an artist. And there were always a lot of expressions of freedom in this city,” she says in an interview here with writer Stephen Heyman.

Alice Pasquini “Crossroads” Drago Publisher. Rome, Italy, 2019


From BSA:

Bill Posters knows his street art and activism history.

From Beuys’ practice of ‘social sculpture’ and John Fekner’s blunt upbraiding of urban planning hypocrisies to AIDS activists using street art to shame government homophobia and the paint-bombing of a Mao portrait that led to the arrest and torture of the artists/activists for counter-revolutionary propaganda, he’ll give you a solid foundation on precedence for this rebellious art life in “The Street Art Manual.”

He also knows how to yarn-bomb.

And myriad other techniques for freelance intervening in city spaces that you own, that all of us own, but which are often commandeered for commercial messages, political propaganda messages, or commercial-political propaganda messages – otherwise known as fascism.

“The Street Art Manual”; Rebel Artivism and Good Manners with Bill Posters

The Street Art Manual by Bill Posters. The Street Art Manual new US on-sale date is now Sept. 8th. 2020. Published by Laurence King Publishing Ltd. London, UK. 2020.


From BSA:

Taking a decade long view of your creative life can be astoundingly instructional if you are brave enough; perusing over the body of work that you have taken with eyes focused and blurred may reveal broad outlines and finer features of a creative life-path – a psychological mapping of the inner world and its outer expression with all its impulses, longings, expressions of received truths and newly discovered wisdom.

Franco Fasoli aka JAZ has looked over his last decade (2009-2019) of work as a street artist and fine artist and offers you the opportunity to examine his public and private side as well in this new two-volume compendium. Painting on the streets since the mid-nineties and his mid-teens in his hometown of Buenos Aires, the visual artist knew his path would be a creative one. His family and role models, comprised of well-schooled artists and educators, had provided a foundation of critique and appreciation for him to build upon from the earliest years.


Artist Franco JAZ Fasoli Goes “Publico Privado”

Franco Fasoli. Privado. Publico Privado. Jaz Franco Fasoli. 09-2019


From BSA:

Belgium’s ROA, whom we have featured in perhaps 30+ articles, put out his “CODEX” monograph this spring, and while sitting inside your lockdown we thought you would enjoy freeing your mind to travel the world with him.

A gypsy by nature, a naturalist by practice, he has investigated and heralded the animal world, complete with its heartless savagery. Accurately depicting many of the most marginalized and endangered specimens, this uncanny portraitist spooks you with the scale of his animals, draws you in to their presentation without guile.

Willing to let his work do the talking, ROA is still anonymous after more than a decade on the global street art stage. Following his own path, we recognize his achievements here, and wish him good travels wherever he goes.


ROA “CODEX” Reveals His Wild World Wanderings


From BSA:

In addition to lush photo spreads of Martha’s documentation over 6 decades, we have essays written by art critic, curator and author Carlo McCormick, UN Executive Director Jan Sauerwald, author and photographer Nika Kramer, author, curator, and Hip Hop historian Akim Walta, National Geographic chief photo editor Susan Welchman, curator of prints and photographs at the Museum of the City of New York Sean Corcoran, and the curators of this exhibition Jaime Rojo and Steven P. Harrington.

The hefty hardcover, a richly illustrated and modernly designed book, is timed for release simultaneously with the exhibition opening this Friday, October 2. In addition to the essays, we have 40 quotes about Martha from her peers, artists, authorities in photography, folklore, graffiti, and Hip Hop, along with long-time friends and her family. The cover of the book features a photograph rarely seen of graffiti writer Skeme train surfing in NYC taken by Martha in 1982. The introductory texts to each of the 10 sections are written by author and curator Christian Omodeo.


“Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures”


Published by Urban Nation Museum Berlin & Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo
.


From BSA:

To accompany the exhibition “Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation” at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, a substantial catalogue has been released to support the show and place the artist in context with his time as well as his influence on the future as it pertains to contemporary art and so-called art in the streets.

Accessible and erudite, the catalogue unpacks the social connections, the various emerging music, art, and performance sub-scenes of “Downtown” and “Uptown” New York culture, the opaque underpinnings of the dominant culture, and the urban syntaxes that formed this young Brooklyn artist and his work in the 1970s and 1980s. To faithfully set the stage for this story; to conjure the atmosphere, the moment, the context that Basquiat evolved himself into, you would need to create an interactive urban theme park with an impossible set design budget, a cacophonous sound-music map, a handful of public policy and political advisors, an anthropologist, a warehouse of costumes, too many actors, too many attitudes, and even more drugs.

Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation. Published by MFA Publications on the occasion of the exhibition currently on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Edited by Liz Munsell and Greg Tate with contributions by J. Faith Almiron, Dakota DeVos, Hua Hsu, and Carlo McCormick.


“Writing The Future”: Basquiat , Broken Poetics, and the NYC Cultural Context


From BSA:

With precision and guile Sandra Chevrier has painted a female world that is sophisticated, unreachable and appealing, whether painted on canvas, street mural, or stuck to a wall in the margins of a city. The characters who are punching and pouncing and swooning across her faces are reflective of her own hearts’ adventures, seamlessly rolling and intermingling with those epic storylines and dust-ups with superheroes and villains of yesterday.

Perhaps it is because of this sense of inexactly placed nostalgia, in “Cages” we are aware of the ties that bind us, the roles that we hold – whether chosen or imposed – and we’re rooting for these Chevrierotic women to win – as they scream and cry and swing for the rafters, looking for the way out.

“A dance between triumph and defeat, freedom and captivity, the poison and the cure,” stands the ambivalent quote on the page facing her black and white photo by Jeremy Dionn.

A closeup of her face, her hand horizontally obscures the lower half, her index finger raised to allow Sandra to see, to study and assess. Without question this artists’ work is more than autobiographical – these expressions offer a stunning sense of mystery, an understanding at the precipice, an adventure-ready to occur.

Sandra Chevrier: Cages. Published by Paragon Books and designed in San Francisco, CA. by Shaun Roberts. August 2020.

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Sandra Chevrier and “Cages”

Sandra Chevrier and “Cages”

With precision and guile Sandra Chevrier has painted a female world that is sophisticated, unreachable and appealing, whether painted on canvas, street mural, or stuck to a wall in the margins of a city. The characters who are punching and pouncing and swooning across her faces are reflective of her own hearts’ adventures, seamlessly rolling and intermingling with those epic storylines and dust-ups with superheroes and villains of yesterday.

Perhaps it is because of this sense of inexactly placed nostalgia, in “Cages” we are aware of the ties that bind us, the roles that we hold – whether chosen or imposed – and we’re rooting for these Chevrierotic women to win – as they scream and cry and swing for the rafters, looking for the way out.

“A dance between triumph and defeat, freedom and captivity, the poison and the cure,” stands the ambivalent quote on the page facing her black and white photo by Jeremy Dionn.

A closeup of her face, her hand horizontally obscures the lower half, her index finger raised to allow Sandra to see, to study and assess. Without question this artists’ work is more than autobiographical – these expressions offer a stunned sense of mystery, an understanding at the precipice, an adventure ready to occur.

Arranged chronologically over the last decade you can witness in her works ample evidence of her refinement of technique and reverence as an artist and as an individual; struggling between revealing and hiding, adding human dimension or remaining an object. Selected swatches of superheroes form collage masks across a steady parade of beautiful female faces and forms, their drama stirred and everpresent, lying in wait until confidence takes root.

Gorgeously designed and laid out; alternating between large matt-finished plate portraits and small sketch paper inserts, the book conveys warmth and clarity even as her superheroes remain mysterious. These cages, however they present themselves, are glossy and refined. Are they empowered, or are they objectified? The lines are blurred. Her femmes are imbued as more than just the fatale who lures one into a dangerous or compromising situation, but these figures may also revel in mystery itself, just beyond your arms reach.

Inquisitive, strong, and full of imagination, Chevrier may surprise everyone when these figures eventually take off their masks. Until then, the enchanting mysteries continue.

Sandra Chevrier: Cages. Published by Paragon Books and designed in San Francisco, CA. by Shaun Roberts. August 2020.

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“Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures” – Sneak Peek at the Book

“Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures” – Sneak Peek at the Book

As we prepare to open the Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures exhibition this weekend, we wanted to let you know that we are publishing a handsome catalogue with UN to accompany the show.

In addition to lush photo spreads of Martha’s documentation over 6 decades, we have essays written by art critic, curator and author Carlo McCormick, UN Executive Director Jan Sauerwald, author and photographer Nika Kramer, author, curator, and Hip Hop historian Akim Walta, National Geographic chief photo editor Susan Welchman, curator of prints and photographs at the Museum of the City of New York Sean Corcoran, and the curators of this exhibition Jaime Rojo and Steven P. Harrington.

The hefty hardcover, a richly illustrated and modernly designed book, is timed for release simultaneously with the exhibition opening this Friday, October 2. In addition to the essays, we have 40 quotes about Martha from her peers, artists, authorities in photography, folklore, graffiti, and Hip Hop, along with long-time friends and her family. The cover of the book features a photograph rarely seen of graffiti writer Skeme train surfing in NYC taken by Martha in 1982. The introductory texts to each of the 10 sections are written by author and curator Christian Omodeo.

At 230 pages, the new book is published by Urban Nation Museum For Urban And Contemporary Art, Berlin, and Steven P. Harrington / Jaime Rojo (BrooklynStreetArt.com). The book will be available for sale at the museum’s gift shop and on view for you to peruse in the Martha Cooper Special Projects room.

Designed by Krimm Studios in Berlin, the project was greatly shepherded by Dr. Anne Schmedding, who edited with us along with Martha. The entire project was carefully managed by the brilliant Christiane Pietsch. Our sincere thanks to everyone who has worked studiously alongside us this year during many Covid-caused complications to produce a handsome tome we can all be proud of.

More about this project in a future posting.

Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures
Curated by Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo

Opening weekend

Opening:

Friday, October 2nd, 2020: 8 – 11 pm

Extended opening hours:

Saturday, October 3, 2020: 10 am – 10 pm

Sunday, October 4, 2020: 10 am – 8 pm

URBAN NATION Museum, Bülowstrasse 7, Berlin-Schöneberg

Livestream Opening Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures

Click HERE for more details about the exhibition.

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ROA “CODEX” Reveals His Wild World Wanderings

ROA “CODEX” Reveals His Wild World Wanderings

Belgium’s ROA, whom we have featured in perhaps 30+ articles, put out his “CODEX” monograph this spring, and while sitting inside your lockdown we thought you would enjoy freeing your mind to travel the world with him.

A gypsy by nature, a naturalist by practice, he has investigated and heralded the animal world, complete with its heartless savagery. Accurately depicting many of the most marginalized and endangered specimens, this uncanny portraitist spooks you with the scale of his animals, draws you in to their presentation without guile.

Willing to let his work do the talking, ROA is still anonymous after more than a decade on the global street art stage. Following his own path, we recognize his achievements here, and wish him good travels wherever he goes.

ROA CODEX. Published by Lannoo Publishers. Tielt, Belgium, 2019.

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