Last week, The Bronx Museum opened the long-awaited retrospective of New York photographer Henry Chalfant. Curated by Spanish street artist SUSO33, and previously seen at Centro de Arte Tomás y Valiente in Madrid. Henry Chalfant: Art Vs. Transit, 1977-1987 celebrates a global art movement that was born in the Bronx and upper Manhattan. Chalfant’s work is credited with transforming photography and film into an in-depth study of hip-hop culture and graffiti art. One of the foremost authorities on New York subway art and other aspects of urban youth culture, his photographs record hundreds of ephemeral, original artworks that have long since vanished.
At the center of the exhibition are Chalfant’s subway car photography where life-sized prints of train cars that simulate the perspective of a graffiti writer looking up while straddling the tracks. These prints display the different styles of graffiti, from “burners” to iconic full-car murals. In addition to the monumental prints, over 100 of Chalfant’s smaller photographs are also on display.
The exhibition includes significant and rare historical ephemera from Chalfant’s personal archives, as well as his more anthropological photographs capturing the birth of the hip hop movement. These include black book drawings and outlines by subway writers, objects from various art exhibitions and hip hop shows, as well as over 200 photographs of icons like SEEN and the Rock Steady Crew, along with lesser-known DJs at park jams in the Bronx, and graffiti artists at the writer’s bench on 149th street.
In addition to the exhibition, the Bronx Museum will be hosting the BxM Ball this Thursday, October 3rd, a party and fundraiser in support of the Museum’s mission to provide free public programs, free admission, internationally recognized exhibitions, and arts education for future generations of Bronx natives. The evening will honor artist Mickalene Thomas and Bronx native, art consultant, and activist Racquel Chevremont. You can learn more about the evening’s special guests and programming here.