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Graffiti NYC

Graffiti NYC: cover By: Hugo Martinez and Nato
Review Date: 16th September 2006
Reviewed by: duncan
Published by: Prestel
"Simultaneously destroying and creating, that's what's beautiful about graffiti"
Noxer by Nato, Brooklyn
"...that's why graffiti has maintained its integrity for the last 30 years or so - it's not corrupted by the marketplace. The very thing that marks it as a renegade form, also keeps it pure"
Richard Goldstein
SI over Dalek, Queens
"For me, Graffiti is a game that never ends"
Kez 5
Kez 5, Brooklyn
"We hope this 'All-City' tour of graff in NYC conveys the creative excitement of the movement today."
Graffiti NYC is different from the other Prestel books I've seen so far, which all seemed to be part of a series. This one doesn't bear any resemblance, physically or artistically. It is a medium sized softback, 160 pages.

It kicks off with a short introductory essay by Antonio Zaya outlining what graffiti is, and what the book is trying to do.

"Graffiti is not an anthropological phenomenon to be dissected, not a social malady to be cured, but a legitimate aesthetic and culture movement, born of a revolutionary spirit and a will to resistance."

The rest of the book consists of photos, punctuated with a dozen pages of quotes from writers. Unlike most other graffiti books, this doesn't seem to be trying to document the graffiti art, rather it's giving us a flavour of the graffiti lifestyle. The pages are often divided up into narrow vertical bars, with photos in each. The photo quality is mixed, apparently from a variety of sources like camera phones or video cameras. Quite a few portraits of artists, action shots, getting arrested or racking paint. Photos are usually heavily cropped, so often you won't see a whole piece. In fact very few pieces at all, it's mostly tags and throw-ups. Again a big difference with other graffiti books; this seems to be not aimed at the coffee table market. Most of the photos are rough around the edges, and deliberately so. This isn't about the artwork, it's about being a writer.

The work we do see includes the likes of Revs, Ja, Cope, Nato, and a bunch of others that are up in New York.

The quotes are the real meat of the book. Like Freight Train Graffiti, the authors let the writers speak for themselves. They also include quotations from the likes of Peter Vallone Jr, Mayor Bloomberg and ex-Mayor Giuliani, and the NYPD vandal squad cops.

This book has no stencils, stickers or 'street art'. It doesn't feature household names. The photos aren't of pretty pieces and characters, but of tags and throwups. It doesn't have the high production values of Graffiti World et al. In short, it's not going to be the most popular book on graffiti, as it's got limited market appeal. However, graffiti writers who're into bombing should love it!

Buy it from Amazon

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