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Martha Cooper | Spray Nation: 1980s NYC Graffiti Photos - Martha Cooper

This collection unveils a rare glimpse into New York's graffiti scene of the 1980s through the lens of one of the most celebrated graffiti photographers, featuring a series of never-before-seen images. These photographs, meticulously curated from an extensive archive, capture the essence of an era where graffiti artists longed for Martha Cooper to document their work. Cooper, renowned for her dedication to capturing the fleeting art of the streets, solidified her legacy with the seminal work, Subway Art, in 1984, a book now dubbed the "bible" by graffiti artists for its profound influence and documentation of the graffiti movement.

In the making of Spray Nation, Cooper and editor Roger Gastman sifted through an expansive collection of 35mm Kodachrome slides, carefully selecting images that range from enigmatic tags to vibrant portraits and dynamic scenes of urban canvas. These photographs, accompanied by essays, celebrate Cooper's relentless pursuit to document graffiti's evanescent beauty, offering a poignant look back at a gritty, bygone New York, whose spirit and energy are immortalized in these powerful snapshots, as enduring and impactful as the city's own relentless rhythm.