Subway Art

Photos by Henry Chalfant


Discover the pioneers of graffiti in the 80’s NYC subway. See the vintage R38 train waggons captured by Henry Chalfant.

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Within “A Walk Into Street Art”, a chapter devoted to Subway Art finds its place. Thanks to Henry Chalfant’s photographs, the old R38 New York trains are gifted a second life under the paint of graffiti pioneers such as Futura 2000, Blade, Seen, Crash or Lee.


Subway Art insists on the incredible freedom that one can experience facing the open-air museum that is the city. Freedom of the journey of the mind, freedom to explore to infinity; and even to reconstruct, thanks to the possibilities of a museum in virtual reality, a real-life visit of certain works that the now legends of the movement affixed to South Bronx trains in the early 1980s. Henry Chalfant, an early graffiti photographer and privileged witness of lost creations that he immortalized with Martha Cooper, gave the devotees the book Subway Art, a bible of graffiti. We engulf ourselves in a metro mouth, to emerge on the platform of a reconstituted station where we can see through the objective of Henry Chalfant’s ten works located on both sides of the five wagons that included the R38 trains of the time. This passage, one from the sketchbook to the train, brings to light a new form of self-portraiture in the history of art: graffiti, or the valorization of the inner world by the writing of its name.