The first truly comprehensive history of graffiti’s secretive, illegal culture. If there were a college course on graffiti, this would be its textbook.
This book is a much needed celebration of a true American art form.
Alain Maridueña, AKA Alan Ket, author of Graffiti Planet, Rockin’ It Suckers, and Graffiti Tattoo
Vivid, comprehensive, and accessible, Roger Gastman and Caleb Neelon’s The History of American Graffiti offers an unprecedented tour through this vibrant, controversial art form and the grassroots movement that surrounds it. Featuring over 1,000 never-before-published photographs and interviews with hundreds of graffiti artists from New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Cleveland, Phoenix, and beyond, The History of American Graffiti is a raw, real, and revealing look at one of the most unifying institutions of modern city life.
Unprecedented in scope, The History of American Graffiti is the definitive story behind the most influential art form of the last one hundred years. Tracing the evolution of the medium from its early freight-train days to its big-city boom on the streets of New York City and Philadelphia, and to its modern-day influences, this volume is a compelling look at the key moments, places, and players in an art form distinctly American in flavor yet global in its reach.
Featuring behind-the-scenes stories and profiles gleaned from more than four years’ worth of interviews with graffiti’s most prominent names, as well as its lesser-known pioneers, authors Roger Gastman and Caleb Neelon provide an insider’s perspective on the history of the medium. Not only do they reveal the most popular trends and styles that have dominated the scene for the last fifty years but they also provide a thorough examination of the regional differences among major American hubs—New York, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Chicago—and under-the-radar scenes in cities like Washington, D.C., Boston, and Miami. All told, more than twenty-five American cities are profiled, making this one of the most comprehensive volumes on the subject.
With more than one thousand photographs—the majority of which are seen here for the first time—from more than two hundred photographers, most of whom also created the artwork, The History of American Graffiti captures the look and feel of a genuine American art form with exceptional clarity and detail. An instant classic, this book is the ultimate resource to which aficionados of the art form will turn again and again, and which the uninitiated will regard as the definitive tutorial of all that is graffiti.
‘Wild style’ graffiti may be the most influential art movement since pop art. Roger Gastman and Caleb Neelon have written the definitive history of the origins of the graffiti styles that emerged in Philadelphia, New York, and Los Angeles in the early 1970s and inspired young artists around the world.
Jeffrey Deitch, director, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art
Graffiti is a much-maligned and misunderstood social movement, which I am proud to be a part of. This book offers the definitive perspective on graffiti-finally, we have a historical textbook for the most colorful art form modern society has known.
David Arquette, actor
When the American graffiti movement emerged, it was ‘outsider’ art, youth art, and public art all at once. It shattered racial and economic segregation and provoked political and generational reprobation. Roger Gastman and Caleb Neelon’s The History of American Graffiti is as sweeping, provocative, and monumental as the movement itself.
Jeff Chang, author, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation