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Photographer and sculptor Henry Chalfant (1940 – ) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He earned acclaim for documenting New York City's graffiti artists and hip-hop culture through photography and film during the 1970s and early 1980s.
After studying Greek at Stanford University and earning his Bachelor of Arts, Chalfant moved to New York City in 1973 to pursue a career as a sculptor. Inspired by the graffiti that he saw during his daily commute, Chalfant began taking photographs of subway trains "in sequence"—a technique he developed that enabled the capture of the street art on an entire train. His photographs earned him the trust of graffiti writers who would notify Chalfant of new works and even suggested when and where to get a perfect shot. He quickly became a leading authority on New York graffiti art.
Chalfant co-produced the award winning 1983 documentary film Style Wars, which documented early hip hop culture and how young people in New York City used graffiti as a form of self-expression. He has also co-authored publications including, Subway Art (1984) with Martha Cooper and SprayCan Art (1987) with James Prigoff. More recently, Chalfant has serially published his archive of graffiti photographs.
Henry Chalfant's photographs are in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands, and the Bronx Museum in New York. His sculptures, photographs, and films have been exhibited nationally and internationally in numerous group and solo exhibitions. Recent exhibitions including "Henry Chalfant: 1980" at Eric Firestone Gallery and "Henry Chalfant: Art vs. Transit" at the Bronx Museum in New York.
Biography written by Kimberly Probolus, April 2020.
Catalogued and encoded by Isaiah Washington, September 2020.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift from the Trustees of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in March 2019.
- artnet. "Henry Chalfant." artnet. Accessed March 26, 2020. http://www.artnet.com/artists/henry-chalfant/biography.
- Bronx Museum of the Arts. "Henry Chalfant: Art vs. Transit, 1977-1987." The Bronx Museum of the Arts. Accessed March 26, 2020. http://www.bronxmuseum.org/exhibitions/henry-chalfant-art-vs-transit-1977-1987.
- Brooklyn, Kathryn Cardin. "Award-winning Actress, New to Brooklyn Heights, Falls in Love with the Place." Brooklyn Daily Eagle. January 26, 2015. acessed March 26, 2020. https://brooklyneagle.com/articles/2015/01/26/award-winning-actress-new-to-brooklyn-heights-falls-in-love-with-the-place/
- "Career Summary." Chalfant Accession File. The Anacostia Community Museum. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
- Chalfant, Henry. "Henry Chalfant." Henry Chalfant Website. Accessed March 26, 2020. http://www.henrychalfant.com/#filter=.home.
- Chalfant, Henry. "How to Take Photos of Graffiti." October 8, 2003. Chalfant Accession File. The Anacostia Community Museum. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
- Chronicle Books. "Subway Art: 15th Anniversary Edition." YouTube. April 16, 2009. Accessed March 26, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=8&v=_YQ_J1JYHWg&feature=emb_logo.
- Gonzalez, David. "Art, Elevated: Henry Chalfant's Archives." New York Times. December 14, 2012.
- Harder, Jeff. "Inside the '80s Graffiti Doc Style Wars." Esquire. November 4, 2014. Accessed March 26, 2020. https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/movies/a30605/style-wars-revisited/.
- Kennedy, Randy. "Graffiti of New York's Past, Revived and Remade." New York Times. October 26, 2010.
- Pareles, Jon. "Mambo and Hip-hop: Two Bronx Sounds, One Sense of Dignity." New York Times. September 14, 2006.
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