Henry Chalfant, Hand of Doom, 1980. Photo: 2018 Henry Chalfant / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy Eric Firestone Gallery, New York.

Bronx Museum of the Arts Launches Kickstarter to Fund Henry Chalfant Retrospective

The Bronx Museum of the Arts has announced that it is crowdfunding the upcoming exhibition “Henry Chalfant: Art vs. Transit, 1977–1987,” which will feature hundreds of photographs and films made by the American artist, who is one of the foremost documentarians of subway art and urban youth culture.

For its first-ever Kickstarter campaign, the museum is attempting to raise $15,000 in support of the retrospective’s production budget. Donors will receive prizes ranging from a digital copy of Style Wars (1983) a PBS documentary about graffiti and the birth of the hip-hop movement that Chalfant coproduced with Tony Silver, to a “one-of-a-kind” disposable camera and photos the artist took around the Bronx.

Chalfant came to New York in 1973 after graduating from Stanford University. Starting out as a sculptor, he quickly became interested in graffiti art and took up photography to document it. By 1977, he had developed a technique of taking exposures in rapid succession on his 35-mm camera so that he could capture works painted on multiple subway cars as trains passed him on the platform. His archive of more than 1,500 photographs—represented by Eric Firestone Gallery—contains images of works by Crash, Futura, Lady Pink, Lee Quiñones, Crash, Mitch 77, Noc 167, SEEN, and T-Kid, among others.

“The exhibition will take visitors back to the epicenter of the 1980s graffiti scene, featuring hundreds of Chalfant’s photographs, a video comprised of eight-hundred images by well-known and under-recognized writers, and a recreation of Henry’s 1980s SoHo studio, where young artists would come together to study Henry’s photographs of their ephemeral art form,” the campaign website reads. An opening reception for the exhibition will be held on September 25.