Photographer Martha Cooper sets out to help Preserve New York's History of Graffiti Art

New York City in the 1970s and '80s was very different than the city today. Not only were cars, signs and clothing styles a time capsule of the era, but the city looked different: it was covered in graffiti. To get an idea, watch the 1983 film Wild Style. A dominant visual aspect of the day, graffiti widely spread around New York City at this time, with subways, building walls, almost anything being tagged by artists including Dondi, Seen, Lady Pink, Zephyr, and Revolt. Many people just simply walked by and ignored this new art form, but Martha Cooper, a staff photographer for the New York Post at the time, was interested in gaining a deeper understanding of these graffiti and their authors.

"I had never even understood that kids were writing their names on walls," says Martha Cooper, "I don't think that was generally known, people thought it was just random vandalism."

While driving around doing...

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