The Birth of Graffiti

A classic body of photographs, most never before seen in print, documenting New York graffiti’s emergence.

The now global phenomenon of graffiti was first captured in New York by a professional photographer in early 1973. The result was Jon Naar’s The Faith of Graffiti, the first and most celebrated book about this controversial new art form. Now the forty or so photographs in that book and more than one hundred additional never-before-published pictures from that landmark body of work are brought together in a book destined to become a classic in its own right. Presented full-frame, at high resolution, and with meticulous attention to the original color, this book brings to life the gritty, exciting New York of the early 1970s and the raw visual power of early graffiti.

While today graffiti is an accepted reality of city life–by turns condemned and embraced–these early photographs recall a time when subway cars and tenement walls seemed to explode overnight into bursts of color and energy. In most cases these ephemeral works survive only in Naar’s masterful photographs. Sacha Jenkins, an authority on graffiti’s history, puts these photographs in a broad historical context of an emerging youth culture that now reaches into every corner of art, fashion, and entertainment. At once nostalgic and inspirational, The Birth of Graffiti opens the way to a deeper appreciation of graffiti’s historical and artistic significance.

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