Graffiti and Street Art Photography

The world’s first photograph was taken in 1826 by French scientist Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, but it wasn’t until the 1940s that photography became art, largely thanks to American art photographer Alfred Stieglitz. Once photography got accepted as an art form on the art market, fine art photographers began to specialize in the niche that better suited their subjective intent. And when graffiti burst onto the streets of New York City in the 1970s, a few visionary photographers could not help but fall in love with this new artform and capture the beginnings of the movement.

With their graffiti photography book “Subway Art” (1984), New York photographers Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper allowed the ephemeral phenomenon of Graffiti Art to become eternal. Their iconic photos of the first graffiti writers in action and trains covered by their masterpieces enabled graffiti to spread from New York City to the rest of the world. By telling the stories behind the early stages of the Graffiti Art movement, these graffiti and street art photographers kicked off a photography niche that showcases an authentic portrait of the cities and also documented art within the urban environments. Not to mention the book “Spraycan Art” by Henry Chalfant and James Prigoff (1987) with its cover by Mode2, and the book “Paris Tonkar” (1991) by Tarek Ben Yakhlef which was the first book dedicated to Graffiti Art in Europe. Today and almost 40 years after the first book, graffiti and street art photography is still highly sought after by fine art photography collectors.

Black and white photography is also a powerful medium for street artists such as the French “photograffeur” JR, well-known for depicting real life and marginalized communities through monumental photographic portraits typically reserved for celebrities to advertise a film or a product. In such street art installations, photos aren’t just the medium but also the final artwork, whose circulation is entrusted to social media, with Instagram leading the way for many years now.

But street art photography keeps evolving on the web, which connects street artists and street photographers, but also street art lovers and fine art photography collectors. One can find and buy online on Urbaneez limited street art photos from professional photographers like Henry Chalfant, whose photo “Children of the Grave” is part of the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and also from established artists like Maxime Drouet, who has produced a series of backlit boxes with photos of his iconic art installations mixing abstract graffiti and conceptual photography. By this way, photography collectors and urban art collectors can explore the niche of street art photography and buy signed photographs by artists like Gum, Philippe Echaroux and Tarek that will bring a touch of authenticity to a photo art collection.

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